Drama on Limehouse Basin Marina today as our entire team of LW Wildlife Rangers (Marine Division) were deployed to build a floating coot nest and save two new born coot chicks from drowning.
Although coot (Fulica atra) chicks can swim as soon as they are born they cannot jump. In this case our Rangers were informed that the coot’s parents had built their nest so far out of the water that once the chicks were in the water they could not jump out again.
The result is that the chicks swim around until totally exhausted then drown.
This happened on Shadwell Basin last year as there were no ramps on the floating island in the middle of the basin and disaster ensued.
On being called to Limehouse Marina our Rangers were informed that previous attempts to built a coot gangway from the nest to the water and not worked, although some said this was sabotage. Of which we shall say no more.
The solution? A floating coot nest! Our Rangers quickly crafted the custom built streamlined nest (shown above) using only the finest materials. One thing was missing though. Can you work out what it is?
Correct. Junk! Rubbish! All caring coots build their nest out of all sort of urban junk so a freshly discarded loaf wrapper (Tesco stone ground) was added to the centre of the nest.
Below is a classic example of a well built coot’s nest – note that it is on the water. No jumping required.
Mooring ropes were also added fore and aft to aid positioning the raft in just the right spot.
The resulting raft was immediately effective and both coot chicks clambered on board.
One of the chicks was too worn out to do anything so the raft was pushed under the water then under the chick who was surprised to find itself safe and sound a few seconds later.
All four coots soon got used to their new secondary nest which has appeared out of thin air, despite much splashing of water at our Rangers who all got slightly damp doing their duty.
Now of course this coot family has two nests. Hopefully they will all transition to the new one when the last two eggs hatch.
While young coots have a red head which leads to them being confused with moorhens.
Happiness is a warm coot. Coot chick number two is right underneath its dad here.
With thanks to Emma & Rob and Bethena.
For further information:
- Coot (RSPB)