Last week I made my annual visit to the coots at Palmerston North. This year I struck the jackpot! Two nests close to the bank, one of which had newly hatched chicks – exactly what I was after. The lake is used for many sporting activities with canoes and each year the coots take advantage of the goal posts etc. for their nesting platforms. This year everything has been moved further down the lake and the coots have gone back to using natural situations for their nests. This blog will concentrate on the chicks in the first nest. They were very comical to watch with the comings and goings of the male with food and nest building materials. The female interacting with him only to receive his offerings before turning her attention back to her chicks.
There were four chicks in the nest and one egg still to hatch. The female coot gave the egg plenty of attention, shifting and turning it on a regular basis, along with caring for her already hatched offspring. Keeping them all together proved too much for her at one point when two of the chicks went wandering.
One of the two runaways took off up the lake on its own, and after much squawking the female literally gave up on the chick and settled back to look after what she had left in the nest. The male was more determined. He chased off the ducks and shags that had their eye on his chick and eventually managed to herd it back to the nest.
Thankfully as we left the nest, there were still four chicks safely tucked under mum’s wing. I hope they survived the storm that was to arrive the next day.