Coots got a big family!

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アパートの裏に、セントラル・ロンドン北部を縦断するRegent’s Canal(運河)が流れている。というと聞こえはいいが、どぶ川とまではいかないものの、ところどころに、ゴミも浮いていたりする、まあ都会の典型的な川と言う感じだ。その運河の真ん中に巣を作り、数年前から住み着いているcootsオオバン、クロガモ)のつがいがいる。バルコニーからその巣が見えるのだが、メスの方がここしばらく巣から動かないから、今年もそろそろヒナ鳥誕生かなと思っていたところ、今日ひな鳥6羽がそろって巣から出て、親鳥にえさをもらっている所に出くわした。ひな鳥は、黒い体に白いくちばしの親鳥と違って、顔がオレンジ色をしていて、とても可愛い。親鳥、特に父鳥は、休む暇もないほど、あっちこっちでエサの水草を探してはひなに与えていて、他の鳥が近づくと、すごい勢いで追い払う(ビデオ参照)。こんなに大変な思いをして子を守っても、いつのまにかひな鳥の数は減っていて、去年は最後の一匹もいつの間にか消えていた。川の真ん中に巣があるので、どんな天敵に襲われているのか、いつも不思議だ。この辺りに出没する猫やキツネが泳いで巣まで行くとは思えない。親鳥はそれでもたくましく、毎年同じ場所で子づくりに励んでいる。

The Regent’s Canal, a canal across the north of central London, runs on the back of our apartment building. The canal may sounds nice, but it is more like a typical small river in the big city with some trash floating around. There is a couple of coots, made their nest few years ago and have been living a the same spot. We can see their nest from our balcony, and we were thinking that the breeding time had come this year again, as the female was sitting on the nest and had rarely moved. Then here we go, we saw 6 little chicks getting out from the nest and being fed by their parents today. The chicks have cute orange faces on the contrary to the parents with black body and white beaks. The parents, especially the father, are working hard to looking for the water plants to feed 6 kids and kick out other birds which come closer (see the video). Even the parent birds try so hard to protect their chicks, one by one disappears as time goes by. The even last one was gone last year. We are always wondering how the chicks disappear, as the nest is in the middle of the river and we don’t think the cats and foxes around can eat them up. But the coots couple don’t give up the tragedy of loosing their chicks and keep breeding every year, at the same place.

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