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  • Writer's pictureRae Gellel

Rescuing a Stranded Moorhen is Wet & Dirty Work!

A local person was out walking at Hall Place in Bexleyheath this afternoon when they heard the cheeping of a moorhen. They quickly discovered a lone moorhen chick in a deep trench filled with water, with a hungry crow watching over it eagerly.

The chick had no way of exiting the water so would have eventually become waterlogged and drowned, and with no family nearby it would not have survived anyway. Luckily this person was a friend of our volunteer, Nicky, who shot straight over there. She kept watch for predators like crows and gulls while she alerted the rest of the team and waited for more volunteer back up. When we arrived it was clear that we would not be able to reach the chick with even our longest telescopic nets, so the only option was to wade into the water, which was fairly deep, with lots of sharp rocks and sticks underfoot.

Thankfully I was equipped with waders and a life jacket - both donated by a kind person via our Amazon wishlist long ago. Unfortunately, however the water came up to my chest, higher than the waders, so I did get a bit wet, and then disaster struck when something sharp caught my boot, tearing the waders, and both legs filled with algae laden water! To make things even more difficult, the moorhen was hiding under some overhanging concrete and being black, was very tough to see in the dark, and kept diving whenever I swished at it with my net.

It was all worth it though as after lots of sloshing about in my very wet clothes, I was able to net the chick. Tired, wet and cold after his ordeal, he seemed very grateful to be in the warm and dry carrier, on a heat pad.

I was less grateful to discover I was completely drenched and had developed a rash on both legs - most likely swimmer’s itch. For the journey home, Fran loaned me her jumper and I fashioned my mum’s high viz jacket into a kind of skirt, then ran into the shower the moment I got through the door.

Such is the glamorous life of a wildlife rescue volunteer. If you don’t hear from me again, I’ve probably succumbed to the lurg.

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