Coots. No really.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Please sir, can we have another rant about coots? Oh pleeeeeeeassse??
Okay okay!. Eyes down, look in........
In a paper published in Nature in 2003 (Egg recognition and counting reduce costs of avian conspecific brood parasitism), Bruce Lyon of the University Of California postulated that Coots can count. By removing and replacing the eggs of coots with dummy eggs that resembled Coot eggs he found that Coots (albeit our american cousins) can count.
"Clutch size comparisons revealed that females combine egg recognition and counting to make clutch size decisions—by counting their own eggs, while ignoring distinctive parasitic eggs, females avoid a maladaptive clutch size reduction."

If this is the case in the US, how come some of ours are so dumb.
Maybe it's just mine...
There have been suggestions that there could be some kind of benign intervention with the Coots on the Wandle and this has been considered. I've done a little reading and poking about. I have asked for some information (and sometimes it has been forthcoming) from fellow birders (thanks Alan). I've looked at the site to see if it is practical, with an imaginary Darwin barking in my ear about purity of gene pools and such like. However, these thoughts have to stop dear reader. And this is why...

Exhibit A

The world infamous shopping trolley Coots. Taken at the end of last week. Although they have managed to find a large pink flower to replace the Nike trainer (houseproud obviously) they have manifestly been unable to raise the height of the nest despite the suitability of the site to do so. Indeed the bird seems to be even lower in the nest site than usual. A visit yesterday found no eggs and nothing sitting.

Exhibit B

Wandle mouth mentalist. This is a bird sitting on a nest that is exposed for no more than two hours a day. Yet it continues to leap on it once exposed, grab some materials to add and then sit tight, while it's mate attacks anything that comes close. Even if it is 10 times bigger than it. About 10 minutes after this photo was taken the tide was up to it's belly.

Exhibit C

Brent Res Coot with a bloody skyscraper! Non-tidal water, with just a little bit of structure to hold on to, and the nest is proper high.

In conclusion, with the evidence supplied within, I have no option but to surmise that the Coots on the Wandle are retards.


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