Site icon San Lorenzo River Mysteries


Dear Barbara,

If you would observe me on the levee, I am sure you would wonder why I am always stopping at the same spot by the Laurel bridge & stare so long w/my monocular across the river. The reason is this sweet story:

Last fall I discovered the Common Moorhen, who would hide in the Tule reeds, blend into the background so well, that only her movement gave her away. Also I learned over time that she was not an early riser: forget finding her before 8 am! She is a shy little Lady: she wouldn’t venture far from her protective reeds & dash off whenever some other river bird would get close to her. She clearly liked her own company, which called for privacy.

sunbathing Moorhen

Then in late fall the American Coots arrived in great numbers(approx. 300) & in their usual manner vacuumed the algae off the river surface & foraged in the Tule reeds. The A. Coots had little consideration for the C. Moorhen seclusion needs & invaded her reeds. This caused the shy Lady to flit nervously back & forth in her attempt to evade the A. Coots intrusion.

There was this one A. Coot, who always kept a certain distance to the A. Coots unruly flock, floating calmly & dignified, engaged in his own universe, on the river. He was a little bigger & leaner shaped then the others. When the A. Coot vacuum brigade moved down stream, he stayed behind. He began approaching the C. Moorhen Tule reed area, staying a respectful distance in open water, which helped the shy C. Moorhen to gain her composure again. Over time she accepted his presence & even got to the point of allowing herself to enjoy his company next to her.

swimming to-gether

Then they began swimming close to the reeds further upstream. A few days later they were peacefully taking a swim stroll out on open, unprotected water, which was totally new behavior for the C. Moorhen. They began feeding side by side exploring new areas, never straying too far from each other.

For the last 3 weeks I haven’t seen them. & so I stop, stare (in the hope of seeing them again), wondering ”Where are they…?”

Hopeful greetings from jane

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