Moorhen – 2003-07 breeding

Gallinula chloropus – IAR DDWR – Breeding resident

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed6986
Breeding probable1552
Breeding possible6632
No of tetrads occupied150 (of 478)170 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads31.4%34.7%

Normally retiring in nature, moorhens can become quite confiding in public areas, such as Pembroke Mill Ponds. Moorhens inhabit lowland fresh water places with well vegetated margins, which are essential for nesting. They sometimes use old nests of other birds, even when they are in trees.

A comparison of the two surveys indicates a 13% increase in distribution by the latter period. If this is applied to the estimate of 300 pairs accompanying the earlier survey, then there were probably about 340 pairs in 2007. The increase was probably due to irrigation reservoirs which were new and bare during the 1980’s now acquiring vegetation.

Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports, which may contain more detail than shown here.

More about the Moorhen in Pembrokeshire

Moorhen – 1994

Gallinula chloropus – IAR DDWR – Breeding resident

1984-88
Breeding confirmed69
Breeding probable15
Breeding possible66
No of tetrads occupied150 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads31.4%

Once regarded as common and widespread by previous authorities, Saunders (1976) wrote that all the ponds and marshy areas had a pair or two of Moorhens. Their range has since retracted in the face of changing land use. Most of the old farm duck ponds have been drained and filled. Land reclamation has eradicated much of the marshy surrounds to ditches and streams. The streams and rivers have become subject to the intrusion of agri-chemicals leached from the surrounding land and to periodic bouts of pollution by farm slurry. Several suitable looking streams were followed during the 1984-1988 Breeding Birds Survey but no Moorhens were seen or heard, nor was there any trace of their footprints in the muddy margins

However, another agricultural development has attracted Moorhens. Farm irrigation reservoirs created  in the potato-growing areas of the county are colonised as soon as sufficient vegetation has become established.  There is a strong correlation between the present breeding distribution, and the cultivation of potatoes, though breeding has been continuous at long-established ponds, such as Bosherston Pools and in boggy areas such as the St David’s commons.  They have long bred on the islands of Skomer and Ramsey (Lockley et al 1949), on Caldey since at least 1924 (Wintle 1924) and Skokholm until 1936 when they became intermittance, until last recorded in 1975 (Betts 1992). An estimate of about 300 breeding pairs is based upon knowledge of the larger waters and the observation that most irrigation reservoirs support just one pair.

Apart from single birds found at the South Bishop lighthouse on 9 October 1884 and 9 November 1975, the only evidence of Moorhen migration in Pembrokeshire is provided by calls heard as they pass overhead at night in the autumn.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

BETTS, M. 1992. Birds of Skokholm. Cardiff, Bioline.

SAUNDERS, D.R. 1976. A brief guide to the birds of Pembrokeshire. Five Arches Press

WINTLE, W.J. 1924. Some Caldey birds Pax 71:133-139

More about the Moorhen in Pembrokeshire

Moorhen – 1980s winter

Gallinula chloropus – IAR DDWR – Breeding resident

The BTO winter atlas showed that Moorhens were present in the majority of 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84.

The darker the colour, the higher the relative total count for each 10km square.  The darkest blue represents over 38 birds seen in a day.

Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007

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Moorhen – 1894

MOOR-HEN, Gallinulla chloropus – Common resident.

Numerous everywhere in the county by the side of streams, ponds, &c.

At Stone Hall we had numbers, semi-domesticated, that fed on the lawns, and nested by the fishponds. By one of our ponds we counted seven nests one summer. As soon as the young birds can take care of themselves, the old birds evidently drive them away, as no increase was observable in the number usually frequenting the grounds, as must have been the case had all the broods remained. Occasionally we noted a nest in a tree over-hanging the water five or six feet from the surface, but the usual site would be among the grasses and rushes at the edge of the ponds. Rhododendron bushes were often selected, and for several years in succession there was a nest in the boat house.

When snow has been on the ground we always found that the banks of the Cleddy had numerous tracks of foxes, and supposed the “varmints” were after the Moor-Hens and rats. The Moor-Hen appears to have been scarce in the part of the county with which Mr. Dix was acquainted, and he expresses his surprise at their rareness, as the country was so well suited to them.

A single Moor-Hen was noticed at the lantern of the South Bishop’s Lighthouse at 1 a.m., on October 9th, 1884, indicating that it was then migrating. We should have thought the Moor-Hen an unlikely species to be affected by the migrating impulse.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Moorhen in Pembrokeshire

Moorhen

Gallinula chloropus – IAR DDWR – Breeding resident

Moorhen – 2020-21 WeBS

The latest figures from the Wetland Bird Survey in Pembrokeshire – totals from all count sites.

Moorhen – 2003-07 breeding

Gallinula chloropus – IAR DDWR – Breeding resident Comparison with previous atlas: 1984-88 2003-07 Breeding confirmed 69 86 Breeding probable 15 52 Breeding possible 66 32 No of tetrads occupied 150 (of 478) 170 (of 490) Percentage of tetrads 31.4% 34.7% Normally retiring in nature, moorhens can become quite confiding in public areas, such as […]

Moorhen – 1994

Gallinula chloropus – IAR DDWR – Breeding resident 1984-88 Breeding confirmed 69 Breeding probable 15 Breeding possible 66 No of tetrads occupied 150 (of 478) Percentage of tetrads 31.4% Once regarded as common and widespread by previous authorities, Saunders (1976) wrote that all the ponds and marshy areas had a pair or two of Moorhens. […]

Moorhen – 1980s winter

Gallinula chloropus – IAR DDWR – Breeding resident The BTO winter atlas showed that Moorhens were present in the majority of 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84. The darker the colour, the higher the relative total count for each 10km square.  The darkest blue represents over 38 birds seen in a day. More […]

Moorhen – 1968-72 breeding

Red = breeding confirmed Orange = breeding probable Yellow = breeding possible More about the Moorhen in Pembrokeshire

Moorhen – 1949

Species account from the Birds of Pembrokeshire, 1949, by Lockley, Ingram and Salmon.

Moorhen – 1894

MOOR-HEN, Gallinulla chloropus – Common resident. Numerous everywhere in the county by the side of streams, ponds, &c. At Stone Hall we had numbers, semi-domesticated, that fed on the lawns, and nested by the fishponds. By one of our ponds we counted seven nests one summer. As soon as the young birds can take care of themselves, the old […]