Moorhens, coots and shovelers

Since I wrote about ruddy shelducks appearing in Moscow ponds alongside mallards (the default waterfowl, so to say), I’ve learned of four other bird species recently spotted in the city.

Mandarin ducks seem to have made it to Moscow from the Far East a few months ago. However, “specimens frequently escape from collections” according to Wikipedia so perhaps they had escaped from some oligarch’s private zoo.

Northern shovelers made their appearance last summer. Like mallards and mandarins, they are ducks. European coots and moorhens, however, belong in a different family, with the rails and the crakes. They’ve been coming to Moscow for a few years already but remain hard to spot: as marsh birds, they prefer overgrown, swampy pond banks where humans wouldn’t bother them.

Perhaps the Covid-19 summer of 2020 – no parties, no picnics – focused the minds and eyes of park visitors on the living creatures around them and helped them notice, for the first time, some birds and animals that had arrived years earlier but had remained unnoticed by the crowds.

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