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  • Writer's pictureRae Gellel

Stranded Moorhen Chicks Are Reunited with Parents

Every summer we are contacted about moorhens nesting next to the weir at Hall Place in Bexleyheath. Although they insist on nesting in this same location every year, it is a very risky spot as the chicks often get pulled into the strong current of the weir and either become waterlogged and drown, or get stranded in one place as they’re not strong enough to swim back up the waterfalls.

The latter is what happened today; two chicks were stuck on a very narrow ledge between two rapidly moving waterfalls. The mother moorhen was swimming back and forth and brooding them occasionally, but they were completely trapped, with little food sources and the imminent risk of drowning the moment they entered the water.

The only option was to get in the weir to retrieve the chicks and carry them back to the calmer waters around their nest. With a steep drop down to the water, lots of rocks and other obstacles underfoot, and plenty of leeches, it was quite difficult work, but we managed to reach the chicks. They narrowly avoided being washed away by the current when they saw me and plopped into the water in panic, but I caught them in my net just in time - along with an unlucky fish! We then delivered them back to their mum, who swam straight over to us as soon as she heard them calling.

We then decided to make a barrier between the nest and the waterfall to try to hopefully reduce the likelihood of this recurring, though we had to be careful not to block the current entirely. Lots of carrying heavy rocks and wood covered in leeches and other critters ensued, which Abbie smugly got to sit out because of her broken hand, which we used to make a small blockade in front of the nest.

Before we left Hall Place we got a report of an injured wood pigeon in the park, which we searched for thoroughly but sadly could not locate, before getting requests for help about two collapsed foxes, one of which Abbie headed to and the other that Fran and I headed to. Posts about these to follow.

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