Coot Count Takes Off

American Coots — the plump black duck-like birds with bright white beaks — have been arriving in the North Basin in modest numbers yesterday and today.  This afternoon I counted one flock of nine near the Burrowing Owl preserve, another flock of seven just south of the Open Circle artwork, and a third flock of about a dozen farther out on the water.  That compares to five who ignored the spring migration and were active here in mid-summer, and just three who were visible a few days ago at the start of October.  If the usual pattern holds up, there’ll be hundreds of Coots here by mid-winter.  (P.S.:  Coots are not ducks, they’re rails.)

The Mallard population also appears to have grown.  Some of these birds have lived here all summer.  This afternoon I saw two pairs swimming southward near the east border of the park.  A few days ago I counted more than thirty of them on the other side of the North Basin, along the coast behind the sports fields at the foot of Gilman Street.  

One flock of recently arrived American Coot
American Coot. Looks like a duck but it’s not. It’s a member of the rail family.
Two pairs of Mallards cruising southward in the North Basin.

 

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