Lone Coot

American Coot (Fulica americana)

Earlier in the summer — or late in the spring — I reported on birds that had missed the migration of their species. Atypicals, I called them. A female Bufflehead, a male Scaup, and a Coot remained here while hundreds or even thousands of their kinbirds flew north to begin breeding. A bit later I saw a White-crowned Sparrow that similarly ignored the northward throngs. Now at the end of July, the Bufflehead, Scaup, and sparrow are gone, at least from my searching gaze. What remains is the Coot. This Coot.

I can’t tell whether it’s a male or a female. All I know is that in the past five years or so, there has always been a small flock of them over the summer. I remember five or six last year, and about the same in previous years. Many dozens, sometimes a hundred or more, show up here during the spring and fall migrations, but don’t stay long. This is the first summer I’ve seen only this one individual. This one spends the nights in the rocks east of the seasonal Burrowing Owl sanctuary. It’s invisible there when it wants to be. This day I followed it as it paddled at medium speed southward within a few feet of the shore until it came to a little landing below a fennel bush up on the embankment. There it climbed out of the water and dipped its beak several times, with drops hanging from the end, as in the photo. I did not see it eat anything and I could not tell why it was dipping its beak into this particular corner of the water. It seemed undisturbed as I filmed it from a distance. After a while, it slipped into the water again and paddled off eastward as if to a destination on the other bank. I lost it in the distance.

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