Thai Days: Birds nests and Tales from the Riverbank – The crazy coot!


This one from Andy Luck’s constantly entertaining Wild Open Eye Blog has a timely element. His Thames coots, crazy though they may they be, are displaying a greater degree of sanity than some of the birds and human inhabitants currently nesting in Thai Village.

A fat wild eyed benevolent Thai lady presented us with an ambitious fledgling that had decided to test its wings before everything was chocks off and away.

“Location, location,” says the real estate agent. “Timing, timing,” says an aviator.

Mum got location just right. The spikiest most inhospitable bougainvillea bush in our garden. Mum was pretty good with the timing – just pre-monsoon – and was a diligent mother. Junior decided to ignore his potential opportunities for advancement, parental advice, and timed his first flight with enthusiasm ignoring location and timing.

Location? The road by a large monitor lizard’s nest. Probably one and a quarter meters in length (the biggest in this area). And a very large turtle’s nest. The turtle is as big as a pillow. The only turtle I know that eats my turtles.

And still on the subject of location in the way of dog walkers with Hounds of the Baskervilles. Big slobbery brutes. The dog owners.

Tweety Pie.

There was an urgent scramble. Solidarity in the natural world is rarely found and if you are a stupid little bird trying to soar before you can fly you’ve as much chance as a runaway early-teen turning up in Soho (or Soi Cowboy) with a bold rebellious sneer, no money and nowhere to stay.

“Oh no!” I thought. “Another dead fledgling in a box in our house.”

The Thais were desperate to catch this flopping, struggling chirping thing before their dogs gulped it down. Nobody likes to see that happen. Annabel fought our cat which had plans and likes to see it happen if she gets there first with some torture first before gulping starts. Our dog, Buggly, was too dumb to catch on. It just went into a frenzied bark and howl routine. It dislikes a dull moment. Buggly is certainly in the right country. I was talking to a few of the local spivs and cross-border runners and I could sell Buggly for twice the price I paid for the destructive, stinky, big eared, dozy beagle. Apparently this vile thing is a pedigree and comes from prize winning parentage. And we have the paperwork to prove it. God only knows what its ancestors won prizes for. My guess is stupidity, furniture chewing, carpet and book mutilation, getting on their owners tits and brainless greed and being thoroughly annoying. The awards certificates restrained themselves to lies and damned lies. “Best of Breed” –that sort of cowardly duplicity. But he’s never killed anything.

Back to the bird. We saved it from imminent destruction. Its mother chirped desperately, it chirped back equally desperately. We looked after it. I knew what the outcome would be.

We thought it might be more comfortable in its nest and tried to extricate the nest. Location, my dear readers! Extricating that damned nest from that damned thorn infested tree was sheer pain, scratches and I look like a demented adolescent who wants to attract attention by self inflicting wounds.

We got the nest out and passing neighbours thought “Ah, the Paxtons again! They are attacking their flowering shrubs with a mop and a Bushman spear and Hugh is yelling “Ah no! Nothing new there! Ah hell! My eye!”

The bird managed a couple of days then died in my hand this morning while Annabel gave it a little water.

Rescuing a fallen bird has only worked once in my life. They are so frail and dependent and make squeaky noises that attract terrible attention. They need their mothers. Need to know how to fly before they try it. That’s the story.

Not a happy one, perhaps. But one many people may find familiar. Could, in some cases apply to children. Not in our case. But in some cases.

Cheers from Bangkok! Over to England and Andy Luck and his rather fantastic footage! The Thames! And coots!


From: Wild Open Eye – Natural Vision, News from Wild Open Eye [mailto:comment-reply]
Sent: Wednesday, June 04, 2014 1:47 AM
To: paxton.bkk
Subject: [New post] Tales from the Riverbank – The crazy coot!

wildopeneye posted: ""Daft a"

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New post on Wild Open Eye – Natural Vision, News from Wild Open Eye

Tales from the Riverbank – The crazy coot!

by wildopeneye

Taking photographs and shooting video of nature regularly, you do see some interesting things, but what I saw at Hampton Court the other day takes some beating.

In Britain there is an old expression "Daft as a Coot", or you can call someone a "Crazy Coot" if you are of the Burty Wooster, (Jeeves and Wooster – P.G.Wodehouse) generation!

Do these endearing water fowl however deserve this loony reputation?

Well, the ‘Daft Coot’ in the attached short edit has built a delicate floating nest less than a meter from one of Hampton Court Palace’s huge and very powerful Golden Jubilee fountain jets! The central jet is said to rise to over 30 metres in height, that is some power of water pressure and you can see the immense volume squirted up by the jets, slowed down, in the attached video.

Who in their right mind would want to raise kids right next to that, right?

But wait a minute… maybe this is not just plain crazy, but in fact a clever strategy to deter potential predators or rivals. Coots do have a reputation for being very aggressive towards competing mating pairs. Maybe the regular blasts of the fountains provides protection? After all, who else would want to be that close to such immensley powerful jets of water!

She and her partner seem to have worked out that by situating the nest due West of the fountain nozzle, the prevailing winds that tend to come from the west in most of the UK, will carry most of the spray away from her, while providing summer cooling from the few drops that do hit her . This is all fine of course until the wind changes to the East!

Maybe she is a weather forecaster and we will therefor have westerlies for the next 20 days or so until the eggs hatch!

The fountains are switched off at night, so that should at least give her some peace!

Some of this footage is shot in super slo mo at 200, 400 and 800 Frames per second on a Sony FS700, it helps to show the water in all its majesty.

It will be interesting to see how this Coots eggs and hopefully offspring develop, more to follow…

AL 3rd June 2014

wildopeneye | 03/06/2014 at 6:47 pm | Tags: Any Luck, Coot, Golden Jubilee Fountain, Hampton Court, Nesting, Sony FS700, super slow motion, Unwise Nest Sites, Wild Open Eye | Categories: Short Films, Uncategorized | URL:

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