Sunday, October 16, 2011

Reifel's got talent

On Reifel Island, the ducks know the schedule; weekends, they clog the pathways, waylay visitors to beg for handouts, keep up a constant din on the lagoons. A never-stopping "Quack, quack, quack, quack," echoes from every side as we walk. Weekdays, they know most visitors carry cameras, not bags of seed: boring. Sleepy time.

Friday afternoon, the birds were quiet, gathering their strength for Saturday's assault on seed-bearers. Mallards were nodding under the shadows of the banks. A great blue heron meditated by a field of yellow blooms. Here and there, a coot floated, dozing in the sunshine.

I stopped to offer this one a handful of seed, which was gratefully accepted. At the far end of the lagoon, a few mallards and coots were sleeping under a crabapple tree. One of the coots woke up and saw that he was being left out; he started to swim in our direction, then decided the matter was urgent, rose to his feet and ran across the water to collect his share of the goodies. It was quite a distance; he never lifted off to fly, and didn't settle down into the water until he arrived almost at my feet.

I've read about coots running on the water, and have seen videos. I never had seen it myself. It's true; they actually do run on the water surface, splashing a bit, as we would run on a solid track after a rain. Amazing!

(I found a slow-motion video on YouTube, here.)

It helps that they have such big, floppy feet.

Coot diving for seed, powered by huge paddle feet.

The amorous mallards will wait until tomorrow. I have an early morning in a few hours; we're going antiquing again.

1 comment:

  1. Love the running coot video ... And your cooty story.


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