Predator most fowl

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Predator most fowl
From: "Darryl McKay" <>
Date: Tue, 4 Oct 2011 23:02:01 +1100
Have seen a swamphen take a coot chick and skulk away without parents
realising what happened.

They are very strong flyers and were one of the first birds to appear at a
newly constructed wetlands at Freshwater Creek Wetlands, Chullora, some
years ago, how did they know?

Darryl McKay

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Debbie Lustig
Sent: Tuesday, 4 October 2011 10:28 PM
To: birding-aus
Subject: Predator most fowl

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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