Willis was at Herdsman Lake in Perth, Western Austrlia around December 2008 where he had his encounter with the Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio).
“A birder once said for every bird that we encounter, there’s somewhere in this world where you can find it in abundance and can be approached with relative ease. At Herdsman Lake at this time of the year, it is the place for swamphen, as the whole place is swamped by them.
“It is so common that as I prone down on the grass, a few of them will just be within 2-3 metres from me going about their business.
“How they feed? They pick up grass-food from the ground with their leg, hold it up and eat them… similar to how we eat from our hand.”
This large rail lives essentially in wetlands, moving into open habitats to extend its foraging range. The bird is omnivorous but primarily a vegetarian. It takes the various plants that grow in and around wetlands. It uses its bill to cut, pull or dig out plants, then uses the foot to grasp and manipulate them.
The image at the top shows an adult manipulating vegetation with its foot with a juvenile by its side. The lower image shows an adult feeding a chick covered in black down.
Images by willis.
This post is a cooperative effort between NaturePixels.org and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.