Two coots have taken up residence in one of the tyre fenders on my boat. For some reason they have decided that this is a good venue to start a family. This means I’m legally not allowed to move the boat until they have finished nesting, which could be up to eight weeks.
At first, I find the coots very sweet. They are shy, and make little cooty noises in the mornings. I like being a mother to a pair of little birds.
A week later, I am starting to like them a little less. They make loud cooty noises in the mornings. They wake me up. Some of their noises are metallic banging sounds – I’ve often woken up thinking, “Who is mooring up at this hour?!”
But, they are still very sweet. I like being a mother to a pair of little birds.
A week later, I am starting to like them a little less. They are still building the bl**dy thing, which means I still have at least six weeks here for the laying, hatching and fledgling period, and though every boater loves a good excuse for why not to move, I am starting to worry that I won’t be able to go and fill up my water tank.
But still, they are very sweet.
A week later, I am starting to like them a little less. They have nearly (but not quite) finished building the nest. And now they like to protect it from visitors. There are a couple of Mallards nesting nearby who often come and have a nosey, and the coots are having none of it. They crouch low in the water and pelt at their adversary like some kind of torpedo, cooting noisily the whole time. The noise is almost like a bark. It goes on day and night. I am beginning to regret having tyres hanging from my boat.
A week later and the eggs still haven’t appeared. Four weeks and no eggs! But still, they are sweet. I like watching them take a bath and climb into the nest to preen.
Two weeks later, they have finally started to lay! Well done Mrs Coot. Here she is… not sitting on the egg.
Two weeks later… the egg hasn’t hatched. The coots are making as much noise as they ever have. They haven’t laid any more and seem to be ignoring their only child. I’m carefully monitoring the nest, as I need to move my boat, but don’t want to disturb them.
In the end, I move the nest off the boat. I’m not really allowed to do this, but I’ve spoken to the conservationist, and it seems that the coots have abandoned the nest. I really hope it wasn’t my fault. A week later I see another little cooty family cooting around. They are very sweet. Noisy though…