Thursday, 12 December 2013

The long and short of it

Fellow ringer and Coot enthusiast, Kane Brides, phoned me to let me know that the Coot I photographed yesterday had been ringed at Cosmeston Lakes, near Cardiff. He wasn't sure if it was one that had previously been sighted in our area or a different bird. A check of the BTO Online Ringing Reports showed it to be the same bird and that it had been sighted at Worthington Lakes in February 2012.

View GR03863 Coot in a larger map

Recovery information for Coot GR03863 or Cwtiar in Welsh
Ringed   23/12/10 Cosmeston Lakes, near Penarth, Glamorgan.
Sighted  03/02/12 Worthington Lakes, Standish, Wigan, Greater Manchester 244 km N.
Sighted  11/12/13 Orrell Water Park, Orrell, Wigan, Greater Manchester 237km N of Comeston Lakes and 9km SSE of Worthington Lakes. The distances moved being the long and short of the post title if you hadn't worked it out already.

You can also view a different version of the map by clicking here. I have been messing around with google maps and can't decide if I like the lite version.

A well travelled Coot but probably a northerner at heart.
This bird may have originated from northwest England and moved down to Cosmeston Lakes as a result of cold weather. December 2010 was exceptionally cold and was the coldest December in over 100 years. It would have caused many water birds like Coots to move to find areas of open water. The fact that it has been recorded in the Wigan area in two winters since goes some way to support this theory.

Coot movements are complicated to say the least and they move around far more often than most people realise. Most birders haven't even seen a Coot fly other than perhaps a short low flight across part of a lake. That is because Coot movements happen under the cover of darkness and simply don't get noticed unless they are heard calling in flight. I am lucky enough to live near a couple of small lakes and it is not uncommon for me to hear them flying overhead along with the responses from the Coots on the water. This two way communication is clearly important and may help birds find good feeding areas or avoid conflict. It is certainly an area that deserves further study.

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