The real ugly ducklings

Well they’re not really ducklings but they really are ugly. Emerald Lake was a great spot to watch a family of newly hatched Dusky Moorhens being fed. For such tiny little dots they picked up amazing speed as they raced across the water to collect a feed from the parent bird.

 Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa) – with faces only a mother, or a deranged birder, could love.
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, aperture priority, f5.6, 1/500, ISO 200, focal length 375mm

 

I don’t understand why their bald heads don’t get sunburnt. Or maybe they do. The wiry white hairs on their chests look like an old man’s whiskers. Their eyes are deepset and despite the sunshine I rarely got even a hint of catch-light except for rare moments when their eyes seemed to bug out of their heads. They have over-sized legs and feet, which explain their superfast paddling, and stubby little orange wings.

 

Dusky Moorhen – to add to its beauty this one is about to eat a fly!
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, aperture priority, f5.6, 1/640, ISO 200, focal length 400mm

 

Dusky Moorhen – the ugly sisters? Now I’m starting to feel mean.
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, aperture priority, f5.6, 1/500, ISO 200, focal length 400mm

 

Dusky Moorhen with chick
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, aperture priority, f5.6, 1/500, ISO 160, focal length 400mm

 

While I watched the parent birds fed their brood pond weed and insects. Dusky Moorhens are social birds with more than one female laying eggs in the same nest and looking after the chicks when they hatch.

 

Dusky Moorhen
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, aperture priority, f5.6, 1/400, ISO 500, focal length 310mm

 

I took this image of an adult Dusky Moorhen on a winter walk at Birdsland. I think it looks quite beautiful – there is hope for those ‘ugly ducklings’ after all.

Happy birding, Kim

 

 

 

 

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