Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus) are probably one of the most widespread and abundant waterbirds in London, from a small pond around King's Cross station to the larger park lakes and canals, and the city's main reservoirs to the River Thames. Indeed, they are found on five continents with an almost worldwide distribution. However, when I was younger and just starting out, this was quite a special bird for me to see in Ayrshire. A trip to Craufurdland near Kilmarnock provided most encounters with what is a shy species in that part of Scotland. More often than not, it was the characteristic 'Kuuruuk' vocalisation that was the main indication of the bird's presence. These days it breeds around Kay Park in Kilmarnock where it is much more approachable though nothing compared with city Moorhens... visitors are literally tripping over them at the London Wetland Centre. A trip there today saw little in the way of the photographable winter species I was hoping for such as Shoveler, on the smaller ponds at least, so I concentrated on the Moorhens by lying flat on the damp grass. One area was occupied most of the day by at least a dozen grazing Moorhens, oh and masses of Moorhen crap...basically pulped grass by the look of it! Hope the stains come out in the wash!
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