Not So Bald Coots

The Tablas of Daimiel is a remarkable part of La Mancha. Covering 1,928 hectares, 4,764 acres, it is a large wetland on the Guadiana river which has been threatened by drought, over-irrigation by agriculture and the subsequent depletion of Aquifer 23 over the past number of years. It is currently enjoying an amazing rebirth owing to the rains of the past two years. Perhaps it is because of this rebirth that we are seeing quite a rarity in these parts, namely the Red-knobbed Coot. And you all thought they were just ACDC fans…
This is a bird that breeds in Morrocco and much of Africa and the South Western part of Spain, namely Doñana. To have at least a pair in Daimiel is quite a thrill. They say they can also be found at times in the Navas of Malagon. It is very noticeable the large quantities of Common Coots in la Mancha at the moment. They are certainly visible in huge quantities and it takes a careful look through all the coots to find these as they do seem to blend in. I was lucky, they happened to be in front of the first hide I entered yesterday. When I was leaving some hours later there was either another pair or the same, I can´t say for sure, near the Embarcadero where they approached to within 10 metres of where I stood. They seemed quite unaffected by my presence despite the fact that all the Common Coots had scarpered. It is supposed to be a shy bird, more wary than it´s cousin, however I found this to be quite the opposite. They must be proud to be showing off their blood red knobs, albeit still a bit small, and wanting to be seen.
It was also a surprise for me to learn that these are omnivorous birds and will eat other birds eggs, as well as small live prey, however this pair were content yesterday to eat weed and algae.

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