Not the most striking of our water birds the coot is often overlooked. All black apart from the the white beak and head shield they are a very common, living on almost any stretch of water. On our local boating lake there are a few pairs, one of which had hatched two chicks earlier this year. They can have up to 9 but struggle to raise a large brood and if unable to get enough food will abandon the weaker ones. The young are not the most photogenic duckling!!
During the breeding season the coots are very territorial and will aggressively see off other coots or ducks. They will use their large lobe covered feet to attack, chasing away the intruder. However once breeding is over they congregate together in what’s known as a cover of coots. They are mainly plant eating but will grab small crustaceans and other small water animals and are regularly seen diving below the surface.
Not the greatest of fliers they launch themselves into the air by running over the water to take off. Up close they are quite a striking bird with a vivid red eye. Keep your eye open next time you’re out and about near water and I bet you’ll see one.