The indomitable coot

The coot (Fulica atra, Dansk: blishøne) is a common water bird found on lakes and rivers in all of the UK apart from north west Scotland. They are related to the rails and crakes, they are extremely aggressive and will see off bigger birds who are sufficiently unwise to encroach on their territory.

Whilst wandering around the lakes at Milton Country Park on Saturday it was early in the morning and the light was really murky, so I experimented with the ISO settings to try and extract some half decent images from the gloom, and in these two images the ISO was 1600 or higher. The high ISO has given the pictures a slightly grainy feel, but that’s to be expected, and I like the colours:

The coot was diving repeatedly and resurfacing with beaks full of weed

I like the colours and the reflection of the beak

Apparently the baldness as in ‘bald as a coot’ comes from the white saddle above the beak, which I think is a tad strange because the chicks really are bald.

Coots are omnivores and their innate aggression extends to their chicks which when food is short they discourage from begging by biting them, sometimes so hard it kills them. It’s a tough existence being a coot chick, they are also regular prey items for other creatures such as herons. On a busy lake with other species of birds the coots are good fun to watch as they chase off allcomers.

10 responses to “The indomitable coot

  1. Omnivores, huh… wow. Poor chicks…

  2. American coots are plentiful here and so much fun to feed and watch.

  3. It’s a shame that coot are one of those species that we take for granted because they are so numerous and ‘common’ and perhaps because they are not especially ‘pretty’. They used to be classified as vermin in the UK, but that’s changed I believe, although they are still fair game to be shot at in the right season.Their aggression is mostly limited to the breeding season; they form large peaceable flocks in the winter months.

  4. I had no idea they were so aggressive.

  5. The term ‘useless coot’ is an Australianism – I am curious as to why this is.

    • I seem to recall that ‘old coot’ is a term here for a grumpy old man, so it looks as though the poor creature has been adopted as a general insult all around the world! If you ever get to the bottom of the correct etymology please let me know what it is. BTW is your coot the same as ours (Latin: Fulica atra)?

Please share your thoughts:

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s