Swamphen Serenity

I don’t often think of brash, gangly, duckling-munching swamphens as serene but I think this one fits the bill.


Australasian Swamphen (Porphyrio melanotus) – previously known as Purple Swamphen
1/1000, f/6.3, ISO 1600


I took the image on a small lake in country Victoria. The early morning light made the water look like some kind of delicate silk. I like the little pressure wave in front of the swamphen and the trailing wake behind it, and was surprised by the clarity of the reflection considering the water wasn’t perfectly calm.

Australasian Swamphens generally forage at the edges of lakes and wetlands, usually eating reeds and rushes but also small critters such as frogs and the occasional duckling. They have long legs and huge orange-red feet that make them look quite clumsy on land and which dangle hilariously when they take off. While foraging, swamphens flick their tails up and down, which shows flashes of their white undertail feathers and makes them easy to see as the sun is rising.

It’s been a busy week so I thought a touch of serenity might be appropriate, I hope you agree.

Happy birding



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15 comments to Swamphen Serenity

  • Linda Cross

    Thank you for making my day each time you email your new posting. I have been receiving the emails from you since Trevor Collins stopped sending his photos, but have never left you a reply, which is very naughty of me as you deserve many accolades for your wonderful photography. I have a close up shot of the swamphen given to me many years ago by our American friend. I have always found the bird quite colourful and stunning in it’s own way. Your shot of one on the lake is beautiful. I know a number of Queensland artists who would just love to paint it. Please keep sending me my little slice enjoyment.

  • Alyssa

    That is a beautiful shot! Would look lovely on a big canvas I think. I didn’t know they had changed the name!! They’ll always be Pukeko to me 😊

    • lirralirra

      Now you have me wondering what it would look like printed on different papers/canvasses, hmmm. Pukeko suits them perfectly 🙂

  • Love the clarity of the reflection and the harmonious colors of the water.

  • Just glorious. I love the silken water, and the reflection is one of the best I have seen.
    I think that birds often look serene on the water, and remind myself that out of sight their little legs are going hell for leather. Which I also extrapolate for humans whose lives look calm and effortless…

  • Top shot, the reflections in the water provide a perfect background to a great shot

  • Margot

    Aesthetically so pleasing with the bold strong colours of the Australasian Swamphen against the delicate ‘fabric’ of the water.

  • Jenny Skewes

    Lovely, Kim. The texture in the water is amazing.

  • Beautiful shot, love the movement!

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