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Moorhens at Martinmere
A study
By: psilo 
Page: 3 of 3

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Another photo of the hollybush Moorhens. Moorhen pairs share the task of feeding their chicks. Chicks usually stay in the nest for about 2 days before venturing out more onto the water. Considering the difficulties of getting up to the nest I couldnt help but wonder how the chicks would get down? and more importantly how they would get back in again. Moorhens usually roost in their nests with their chicks under them, but once these chicks had left the nest there would be no going back. I never saw the chicks leave the nest so in the end I do not know how they fared.
Moorhen chicks stay close by their parents for about three weeks. When they leave the nest they immediatly start to forage for themselves though mum and dad still spend all their time feeding them. Whilst small they are very vulnerable to predation and mortality can be high. Rats and stoats are particularly partial to a young moorhen chick. The parents protect their chicks with amazing agression. They have even been seen to drown young ducklings that get too close to their brood. As they get bigger they are fed less by their parents and more by themselves. Their diet consists of aquatic vegetation, seeds, fruit, grasses, insects, snails and worms.
I find it curious that when Moorhen chicks hatch their colouring is very much like their parents. As they reach fledging age, at around 6 weeks, however they lose their young colouring and become very drab and brown. By the time they reach this stage they are totally independant. Parents are nowhere to be seen and are probably making plans to start their second brood.
This young Moorhen is still along way from maturity but as he has made it this far it is likely that he will get through his first winter and go on to have young ones of his/her own. Moorhens can produce around 3 broods a year and as a result there is no shortage of Moorhens at Martinmere. They are everywhere. They also benefit from feeding on the seed that is given to the birds in the wildfowl collection.
I love to watch these birds and some of them have real characters. I have even had them feed out of my hands. This would be impossible in the wild. I have great respect for these birds. They work well as a team and they have amazing courage and dedication to their young. I continue to watch them and will watch the progress of the young ones through the winter with interest.

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