Monday, 3 March 2014

Preening

One of the more obvious signs of Spring comes from the local bird life which at the moment, are spending more and more time sorting out their plumage, in readiness for the mating season.  On our walk this morning, we were treated to the sight of several of the waterfowl engaged in this very act.  One Coot was being particularly careful with his toilet.
Coots (Fulica atra) are well known in the UK with around 31,000 breeding pairs around the country.  Their numbers are swelled in the Winter, by a continental influx to around 190,000 individuals.
A member of the Rail family, they are related to Moorhens and lack the usual webbed feet of most waterfowl.  Instead, they have fleshy lobes along the length of each toe, which gives them a strange, big-footed appearance.  This individual was having a good time preening and making sure that not a feather was left out of place.
On the other side of the lake, a Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) was doing much the same thing in the sunshine. When the 'wash and brush-up' was done, it looked stunning, back-lit.
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