Sunday, 5 September 2010

Moorhen -v- Swamphen

The Collins Bird Guide is decent enough but I always get irritated when I flick past the skuas to see the Arctic referred to as the Parasitic Skua.  I can just about live with Barn Swallow but I refuse, point blank, to call divers loons. I reserve that moniker for the people who think this is a good idea (with apols to any American readers).

There is one change of name that I hadn't noticed however, because it refers to a bird I'd never come across until my recent visit to the S'Albufera reserve in Majorca.  So it seems that the Purple Gallinule is now the Purple Swamp-hen. Well there you go.  Whatever you choose it call it, it's well worth a look.  This one strolled past the hide I was sharing with a few dozen mozzies.

As it strutted across some dried up mud minding its own business, there was a sudden commotion and a seriously cross moorhen appeared from nowhere and began circling the big rail in its best aggressive threat posture.

The moorhen did its utmost but the swamphen just stood and stared at it.

By this point the moorhen was absolutely doing its nut.  After a short while, the Gallinule just stretched out its lanky legs and strode off into the sunset.

It was a scene that reminded me of the classic bit in the Jungle Book film where Kaa the snake is trying to hypnotise Shere Kahn the tiger. He goes through his eye twirling, th-th-inging routine until a bored Shere Khan just splats Kaa's head under a huge paw and says 'Oh, I haven't got time for that sort of nonsense'.

The story of the Purple Gallinule at S'Albufera is interesting. Hunted to extinction here, a re-introduction programme began in 1991 with 28 birds released.  By 1999, there were 200 pairs.

1 comment:

  1. ..........and the only loons i will recognise are the two toned strides of the seventies. Very fashionable at the time. Mine were bought out of the Melody Maker, as i recollect.