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A pigeon-sized dark bird with rather long tail and long green legs with long toes. Bill red with yellow tip. Slate-grey plumage (upperparts brown-tinged) with a white line along side of body and white sides to undertail-coverts (form inverted V in rear view). Carries tail high and jerks it when walking, also jerks head when swimming.
Common breeder on smaller lakes, ponds, pools and rivers with dense vegetation cover. Usually secretive but in some places quite bold, and may be seen strolling in open on grass or waterside meadows.