Moorhens protect from hurricane Frances

Frances is about 45 miles east of us moving NNW at 9 miles an hour with winds gusting between 50 and 60 miles per hour. Our office at the Animal Broadcast Network overlooks the Gulf of Mexico. We have everything snugged away and expect to ride out the storm in relative safety – and so, it would seem, do our neighbors the moorhens.

A few moments ago while watching the first outer band storms ride in from the NE a quick motion near the shoreline caught my attention. A mother moorhen was leading her 2 chicks home to shelter from the approaching storm. I watched this amazing site for only a second or two before common sense kicked in and I realized that my camera was inside. By the time I could fetch the blasted thing, it is always loaded, the mother and her chicks had traversed the 60 yards or so against the considerable wind and mom was shooing them into their shelter in a clump of reeds growing at the shoreline. She stopped and turned for a moment (insert) as if to check for any stragglers and disappeared into the tall sturdy stalks that bend with the wind but will not break.

Now, I’ve seen them there before and I know that the reeds are their nest area as they constantly come and go while foraging along the shores of the inlet. That was not the amazing part of the event, nor even the evident caution and skill with which mom put her chicks out of harms way. I’ve grown use to the fact that moorhen parents are dedicated defenders of their brood.

No, what proved an eye opener was the very existence of that patch of reeds. The property owner, who maintains an otherwise meticulous landscape, has deliberately allowed the reed clump, messy and somewhat disheveled as it is so that he can share this shore with a family of moorhens.

If you're interested in learning more, visit Moorhen in the UK.
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