Moorhens make the most of warmer weather

SEPTEMBER’S record high temperatures have led to moorhens building nests and raising families of chicks at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre, four months after their peak breeding season in the spring.

Reserve Warden Scott Petrek said: “Moorhens are the most notable of the species which are still rearing youngsters, and we’ve certainly had new hatchlings within the last month. This is a resident species to the UK so they don’t have the migration issues of other birds, and there is plenty of food for them here so they tend to string out the breeding season.”

The moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) is a UK resident, with the breeding season starting in middle or late March and continuing usually until the end of July.

Second and third broods are not uncommon, however, with the number raised being dependent on availability of food for laying females and the young.

Provisional statistics issued by the Met Office on Friday (September 16) showed the UK has been experiencing unseasonably warm weather, with the mean temperature for the first half of September being 15.9 °C, 3.3 °C higher than the average.

Alongside the moorhens, other unseasonable signs of wildlife activity include the number of dragonflies still to be seen at the Gloucestershire reserve.

Scott commented: “Migrant hawkers are a classic late-summer species and they’re still in good numbers on the wild parts of the Slimbridge site. There are also good numbers of common darters: they normally begin to peter out in September but, if the weather’s kind, it’s not unusual to see them into October.”

Meanwhile, staff and visitors to the Slimbridge centre have also been surprised at the prolific breeding of a number of LEGO® brick animals, with 11 individually-designed characters featuring along a brand-new LEGO® brick trail.

The trail opened on Saturday for seven weeks, enabling young visitors to enjoy tracking down the creatures and take part in interactive LEGO® brick workshops, with mini figures to build and take home. Workshops run every weekend and daily during October half-term until November 6.