Predator most fowl

Subject: Predator most fowl
From: Merrilyn Serong <>
Date: Tue, 04 Oct 2011 23:19:45 +1100
I also loved Robert Drewe's piece. I was, however, surprised by his observations as I have never thought of them as being so aggressive. I have seen them eat all sorts of things, but have not witnessed them grabbing ducklings and the like. I will keep watching (from a safe distance, of course).

On 4/10/2011 10:27 PM, Debbie Lustig wrote:

In his Saturday Age column on 1/10, 'The case against the swamphen', Robert 
Drewe described the Purple Swamphen thus:

'It's a tallish, bulky, gaunt bird...taller than the average rooster and, in a 
masked Darth Vader sort of way, more menacing in appearance...[It] has sinister 
black feathers, which blend into an oily purple ruff around the neck. [Its head 
has] a red skullcap of plastic-looking, cartilaginous stuff, which descends 
into a mask from which black eyes glint cunningly and a disproportionately 
large, horny beak.

'The swamphen has an edgy demeanour, skinny legs and three long, unwebbed 
toes...on which it strides and sprints across reeds and lily-pads, defecating 
heedlessly as it goes.'

Next, about the swamphen's supposed lack of flying prowess: '[It] flaps and 
flies about as high and successfully as a domestic chicken.'

The real point of the piece comes after all this, arguably slanderous stuff 
(can you slander a bird?).

Drewe witnessed swamphens grabbing ducklings and cygnets. He claims to have 
seen this at least three times. Then, recently, one bit him while he tried to 
jog around it. Hence, the ugly, hate-crime rhetoric about its looks and 
demeanour. (It's a very funny article.)

Never having suffered an attack by one, I must leap to the defence of 
swamphens. They're fun to photograph with some bit of stuff in their (long, 
unwebbed) feet. And they fly quite fast round these parts. Wandering around on 
top of huge reed beds is pretty neat, too.

Could it be time to start a Purple Swamphen Appreciation Society?

Has anyone apart from (professional yarnspinner) Mr Drewe seen a swamphen grab 
a duckling or cygnet?


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