Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Grindelwald Coots Fight it Out

..... Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)

Grindelwald is an imitation Swiss village in the Tamar Valley. It's really not my scene. If I wanted to see a Swiss village I'd rather see one in Switzerland or else just look at a photo of the real thing. However, as the family very patiently waited while I was looking at the Queechy Lake Birds the day before it was now my turn to patiently wait on them. I found a bench, and sat down to read some leaflets I had on the Tamar Wetlands. It staved off the boredom for a good five minutes. Then I discovered that they had a dam out the back with a few birds on it.

There were Pacific Black Ducks, Coots, a couple of Purple Swamphens and a Great Cormorant. Many of the birds were quite tame as they had been regularly fed by well meaning tourists. Indeed there were people feeding them while I was there. The good side to this was it allowed me to get a close up photograph of a coot's foot. Unlike a duck with it's webbed feet, a Coot has wide lobes of skin along the toes.

(Click on photos to enlarge)
Detail of a Eurasian Coot's Foot (Fulica atra)

Aside from swimming these feet also make good weapons when defending territory. One pair of coots were up on the lawn among the ducks but every time a second pair of coots tried to approach they were chased off. The invaders kept trying to approach until the territory owners chased them all the way into the dam where feathers began to fly. All four coots began to fight but two seemed to be more aggressive. I'm guessing these may have been males but I really don't know. They would circle each other with wings raised up over there heads. Then they would spread their wings and lean back on them into the water while kicking at their opponent. If one managed to latch on to the other it would try to hold it's opponent down under the water as if trying to drown it. I have heard of cases of birds actually drowning other birds so this may in fact be what they were trying to do. The fighting went on for a good five minutes before the invaders turned back and kept their distance.

Here are some photos of the action:

(Click on photos to enlarge)










So if you're ever passing by Grindelwald it may be worth popping in. They really do have something for everyone.

Grindelwald Village


  1. Beautiful shots! Sometimes moments like this all you need are moments like these to keep you going.
    This time of the year is always fantastic for watching birds duking it out.

    My personal favourites are the feral Common Myna. I have seen some beauts where up to four birds clasp their legs together screeching and slamming into everything around them!

    Nice work on the shots!

  2. Great photos showing the action. I like the close-up of the foot also and must have a closer look at the coots when I am next around the ponds in Gympie.

  3. Hi Mosura
    Fantastic shots of the fight.
    They were pretty serious.
    I agree with Mick about the close-up of the foot.
    It really does give people the chance to learn the subtle differences between groups of birds.

  4. Thanks Sebastion - I one watched two fulmars become entangled causing them to fall from a cliff and crash down next to me. Took a few moments for them to come to.

    Thanks Mick - yes their feet are quite fascinating.

    Thanks Denis - Yes the fight was pretty serious. I was so intrigued that initially I forgot to take photos.

  5. Great action shots will have to look closer at the feet next time I come across the coot.

  6. Great shots here and throughout your blog. Nice work! Makes me feel like I am due to upgrade my camera when I see blogs like this!

  7. Thanks Russell - Wish I could point my camera at some of your cassowaries.