Saturday, June 06, 2009

Feathered friends

A few weeks ago I watched a pair of coots feeding their scruffy looking brood. I eventually counted there to be six chicks. At that time they were spending most of their time hidden under the trailing branches overhanging the margins. Occasionally one or two would venture out to greet mum or dad to get a beakful of food. Even at that size the adults would admonish a chick by harrying it and appearing to peck at it. As the day wore on they became braver, and sometimes five would come out into the open water. There always seemed to be one that hung back. I didn't expect all the chicks to survive.

Now they are considerably bigger and braver, and there are still six of them, and they still get told off by their parents. And there is still one that spends a lot of time on its own - which is why there are just five youngsters in the photo below. They must be half grown now. Still taking food from their parents in a noisy rush each time one pops to the surface, they follow them round the lake but have learned to dive and are discovering what boilies are!

Family life

Although the coots were entertaining, it was a pair of great crested grebes that provided me with the more interesting sight. Grebes eat fish, so it took me a while to realise that a pair which were some way off making upward stabbing motions, stretching their necks sharply in all directions, weren't doing it for exercise. They were taking advantage of an evening hatch of insects. Opportunistic feeding.

I also had a close encounter with a mallard. A particularly forward female that flew into my swim and mopped up every spilled hemp seed it could find while it's mate stood guard at the water's edge. This made me happy because it left next to nothing for the rats to feast on after dark and they pretty much left me alone.

Fishingwise it was pretty much like last time. I fished the same spots, with the same rigs and caught a few more tench to keep my hand in. The females I caught, however, were nowhere near as fat as the two I had last time out. Solid, but not podded up. I should have come home before the rain set in, the temperature dropped and the tench stopped showing themselves on the surface. I've caught tench in the rain, but it's been warm rain. One day I'll learn something and it will stick.

The in-line feeder scores again