zaterdag 28 april 2012

The "Weekly" Biology Session: Duck Spotting

Last Thursday, after bringing Little Man to school, I had some time to watch a little creature I had spotted during the week before. A creature that sparked my interest:


It gave me an evil eye as I slided to the edge of the pond near our house, carefully not to step into any dog poo.


Aaaah yes, spring is here! This little coot (meerkoet for you Dutchies) is nesting near the side of the pond. I walk/bike alongside of this pond nearly every day so I see the ducks and other animals living there very often. Now, this little coot, I would not dare to scare away, so it will remain a mystery for now how many eggs are tucked up in her little nest. It would take up to 3 weeks to come out for the little coots, so probably in a week, week and a half, hopefully there will be a few small ones following their mama.

It's quite busy in this pond.


Mating season started a few weeks ago. In this pond there are two male (one is not on this picture) and one female wild duck or mallards as they are called. Poor females are chased around until they are weakened and give up by the males during mating season.It will happen often that the female dies during this chasing because they are run over by a car. I hold my breath when I see this behaviour.
I think this male has won the mating game. The other male was sort of roaming on his own by the side of the pond.


The "lucky" male relaxing in the grass.


Coot husband of the lady coot on the nest. Can you see the paws? I find them very intrigueing. Why are they not the same as mallards? I do not know for sure, but mallards do not dive, and coots do. Maybe that is why they have different paws.

Little Lady, who had been very content sitting in the jogger and playing with her feet and exclaim "Da!" every now and then, and I walked back home next to an arm of the pond and saw another coot's nest.






More little coots! Hopefully there will be enough foot for all little coots, since the parents can be very brutal when there is food shortage in their habitat. When the little ones beg for food, and parents do not have it, they will bite the young until they stop begging (and probably starve to death). This can be even more brutal, as parents sometimes bite their young to death.


And here is the other dad-to-be swimming along, taking care of his wife.

And I knew there was also a moorhen (waterhoen), but it took some time to find him (or her)


He (or she) has been alone for quite some time. I haven't seen a mate. Why it is alone in this pond? I do not know. Maybe there is another one, but is it hiding somewhere else in a nest.


I like our pond! Hopefully some swans will return this year to hatch some eggs like last year, but for now, two nests to keep an eye on is a wonderful thing to watch.

So, people, go out, check your neighboorhoud, and get to know your pond. I love to watch the ducks with Little Man. It is a lovely way to let them know how birds live, what their behaviour is, and teach what nature is about.

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