... with one eye open.

By Chamaeleo

Coot & Cootlings

Better in large ("L").

I visited Eagle Pond today armed with my long lens: I felt very brave changing lenses in the car (dust swirling large in my eyes...), but was glad to have the 70-200mm mounted when I arrived.

The coots still have two cootlings (*phew*), but they already look larger: they grow so quickly! I was pleased with a photo I took of Mr. Goosle preening (still no sign of Mrs.; is she sitting on a nest again? She's been gone for weeks...) but after mentioning the cootlings, I felt that they needed blipping while they're still tiny. I've uploaded Mr. Goosle to my blipfolio (here).

Coots feed their cootlings beak to beak: the cootlings make a pleading gesture (they drop their neck and look up at the parent with their head tilted: it is adorable...) and the parent gives them the food. This coot appears to have a small insect in its beak in this photo, but they often dive for leaves which they then shred or rootle through to find morsels. Sometimes the parents get irritated with the cootlings if they beg too much, and will grab the cootling by the head and shake it rather alarmingly. Apparently this behaviour is more common when food is scarce (as the parent is stressed), but it is quite nasty to see, and apparently chicks can be killed in this way. I've seen a moorhen get very cross with a chick and chase it around biting and shaking it. The chick repeatedly sat down and tried to look small and submissive; eventually the moorhen calmed down and left the chick alone, but their fiery tempers are quite shocking! (Ah, I described that situation in this blip)

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