Coot Scoop

IMG_5582.JPGUnique photos of newly hatched coot chicks at Shiplake Lock

A serenely serendipitous situation; we had just tied up at the lay-by for Shiplake lock, and were obviously in for a bit of a wait, so catching sight of yet another pair of coots building a nest just a few yards from the lay-by I picked up the camera.

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I have rather a lot of similar photos, but this time the nest was in the reeds, and all green. No empty crisp packets or bits of rubber hosing in this nest construction!

Then as I waited for Mr Coot to return with the inevitable building material offering ……… I noticed a tiny red and yellow punky head peek out from below Mrs Coot!

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She had a baby in the nest! Hooray. I have spent all summer trying to get a clear photo of a baby baby coot – and everything so far has been distant, blurry and frankly useless.

As I watched I became aware of the shrill squeek of a hungry young coot demanding food. It was coming from further along the reed bed.

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Wow! ….. the first hatched of the brood had already ventured into the water and was making his hungry presence known to his father. This was one determined young creature, out to grab any morsel of food before it reached the nest and his (or could be her) siblings.

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Back in the nest, Mrs Coot was apparently feeding egg shell to the other babies. I don’t know this as a biological fact, but it is my take on what she has in her mouth.

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Her fascinating feet are so big, and protective, next to her young brood all bald as a coot!

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The errant eldest chick returns …….

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…. and takes on a perky sentry attitude …….

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…… always on the watch for dad with some food!

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He’s the adventurous one, off exploring again, then return to mum to nestle in for a rest.

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Sad to leave them, and I have every finger crossed that at least some of the chicks survive the predatory pike, mink, buzzards, foxes and others higher up the food chain.

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