The Great Coot Exploration

2015-07-01 16.29.11.jpg 

My strategy for enjoying the Thames this summer did not include coots, but I have become ridiculously absorbed and fascinated by these cute feisty birds.

 

It began a few months ago as I noticed them building their nests, working in pairs to make a safe haven for their eggs and their young.

Capturing photos of the nests was easy …..

 

 

But capturing photos of the newly hatched young is near impossible for a fidget like me!  Every time I got within coot-sight of a nest, one parent would quickly and quietly lead the young chicks away, whilst the other parent acted as decoy and swam in the other direction!

IMG_4941.jpg

When I did catch sight of them, I was amazed to find little black chicks with red/orange topknots on their heads – nothing cootlike in that.

I set myself the task of getting one of these chicks on film (or the digital equivalent), frantically calling to the Captain to slow the boat as we cruised by likely nests, or scrambling through undergrowth to sit with my feet in the river, as still as a fidget can be.

All I have achieved is a few blurred images.

IMG_5011.jpg      IMG_4884.jpg

As they grow, they move into the grey stage, losing their striking red/black look, and start to develop those enormous feet!

IMG_5066.jpg

It seems that the parents then have no choice but to bring them out on the river in full view of all predators to feed them and teach them the rudiments of finding their own food.

IMG_5065.jpg

Gradually the feathers darken towards black and the little monsters get ever hungrier, demanding constant feeding from both parents!

IMG_4842.jpg           IMG_4845.jpg

I am not sure what the next stage will be – I’ll keep watching as they develop into the bossy boots of the river, chasing much larger birds away from their breeding and feeding grounds, and stomping their big feet on their territory.

IMG_4240.jpg

And as I emerge from the summer Thames tangle, I can report that it’s been great fun!

2015-07-01 16.30.09.jpg

IMG_5011.jpgIMG_4842.jpgIMG_4240.jpg

3 thoughts on “The Great Coot Exploration

  1. I too was thinking of Ransome’s Coot Club as I looked at your interesting post. You must have some really old friends; I think it was published when our parents were young!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s