The Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) is a very wide-spread species ranging through Europe, Africa, and Asia (up to Indonesia). Some authors even consider the Common Gallinule of North and South America to be merely a subspecies of the Common Moorhen. The birds inhabit wetlands, preferably smaller lakes and ponds with densely vegetated banks. However, they are very adaptable and even occur in parks within cities. In these areas the normally shy birds can become relatively tame and do not flee if approached. The Common Moorhen is an omnivore feeding on plants as well as insects, molluscs, and even eggs of other birds or carrion. While breeding, the birds defend their offspring quite aggressively against predators. If threatened, young fledglings have been observed to cling to the parents’ bodies which then fly away with them to safety!
I observed a couple of Common Moorhens in a public park in Kiel in northern Germany during May and June 2014. Interestingly, the birds were very shy at first, retreating already at a distance of more than 50 m. A few weeks later, I saw them again with young fledglings looking for food undisturbed by the hustle of sunbathers and picnickers – good for me and my camera!