Ian has reported a coot (fulica atra), a new species for the park. Coots are small black waterbirds, close relatives of moorhens. Both species belong to the family Raillidae.
Coots have an unusually white beak and a strange white frontal shield above it. Strangest of all are its feet which aren’t webbed but have pale lobes on each side of each segment of the toes. They look as if they are wearing enormous white gloves on their feet.
Coots are quarrelsome, particularly in the breeding season when they defend their territory very aggressively. It isn’t likely that our visiting coot will nest in the park but keep an eye out for it and take its picture for us if you see it.
In Britain there are 31,000 breeding pairs, so it is not uncommon, and there are twice that number that come here from mainland Europe to overwinter in our milder climate. While the resident population appears to be stable, the population of European visitors has fallen over the past ten years.
Here is a short recording of the coot’s call
Photographs Creative Commons
Another new addition to our species lists: