One Year Pond Study Week 23: A Mystery at the Pond

Our pond this week:
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When we arrived at our pond for our weekly study, we were not expecting anything out of the norm.  Everything at first glance looked the same, everything sounded the same.  Really, everything was the same as it always had been.  We did our usual walking around the perimeter of the pond, taking photos, running back and forth sharing all we had found, until I heard a squeal from my youngest twin.  She would be my loudest child and I am forever telling her to turn her volume down a few decibels.  I glanced up and one look at her face told me she had found something new.  It was a nest!

There is a nest underneath all that growth, this was the best photo I managed
There is a nest underneath all that growth, this was the best photo I managed

We were a bit puzzled, as we knew the Moorhens had a nest and had hatched three chicks already; the Mallard ducks were past their mating season, all the males having molted and now looking very akin to their female counterparts; the Mandarin duck the children had spotted at one of our other ponds with a mate; the Heron was a loner and the nest was no way big enough and ditto the Canada Geese, who anyway hadn’t been seen for a while.  So who did the nest belong to?

We carried walking around hoping to see evidence of some chicks.  Thing was we really didn’t know what we were looking for.  We didn’t need to wait for long, because in the undergrowth we caught sight of this little chick and it’s mum:

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A Moorhen and one little chick!

We were a bit confused, surely the Moorhens had only just had a set of chicks.  And we were certain we had seen one of them earlier on.  We had a good look around and there all three were, looking larger than life:

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Then we got thinking.  What if those chicks, who didn’t really look like Moorhens anymore weren’t actually Moorhen chicks but a chick of another sort.  After all they had sort of grown to rather large proportions seemingly overnight.  However, as we watched them we noticed something about them which we had found out was peculiar to Moorhens: they don’t have webbed feet, which for a  water bird is very unusual:

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These were definitely the Moorhen chicks of the past few weeks.  This means that not only have our chicks survived but their incredibly clever Mummy and Daddy have made a new little chick!  This may not seem that miraculous, seeing as that is what birds are meant to do, until you consider that my mum has lived near this pond for many, many years, but has never noticed any chicks.  And now we have two sets.  A quip about waiting for ages for a bus and then three turn up at once is on the tip of my tongue, but I shall resist!   Way to go, little Moorhens!!

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If you want to give them a cheer, please feel free! (we did!)

10 comments

  1. Wow, that’s very unusual. A moorhen’s cluth size is usually 8, laying one egg a day. A few eggs will hatch earlier than others, although the difference in hatching time is normally a few days. It is very unusual for the last egg to hatch weeks after the first ones. What an interesting discovery for your pond study!

  2. What a joy! It is a wonderful experience to watch a nature subject for a whole year because you get so much out of comparing and observing. Thanks for sharing your updates with the OHC Blog Carnival.

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