American Coot Being Chased For Its Food

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American Coot being chased for the food in its billAmerican Coot being chased for the food in its bill – Nikon D500, tripod mounted, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I spent some time photographing birds nearby at a local pond two days ago and along with the Double-crested Cormorant with the large fish I also photographed American Coots feeding and fighting on the pond earlier in the morning.

With the winter sun so low on the horizon I have to be on the southeast side of the pond to have the sun on my back and because of where I stand to photograph the birds quite often the water picks up the colors of the houses near and above the pond on a hill as reflections on the water. Sometimes those reflections make the water appear almost surreal, from liquid silver to molten copper with streaks of radiant blues from the sky overhead. I felt I needed to explain the color of the reflections because they are so different from the beginning of this series of images than they are at the end.

I was watching one American Coot dive into the water to bring up submerged aquatic vegetation to eat when I noticed another coot acting like it might try to grab the food from the coot I was focused on so I checked my exposure to prepare for some action and I am glad I did because the chase started almost immediately!

American Coot running across a pondAmerican Coot running across a pond – Nikon D500, tripod mounted, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The coot that was chasing the one in my images was always too far behind the one being pursued to have it in the frame but I loved the action I was able to capture as the coot ran across the water with its food in its bill.

American Coot scooting across a pond with food in its billAmerican Coot scooting across a pond with food in its bill – Nikon D500, tripod mounted, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

My Nikon D500 handled tracking the coot with ease so I didn’t miss a shot of the action happening in front of me. The high burst rate of the D500 combined with what is essentially an unlimited buffer by using an XQD memory card has really impressed me and allowed me to focus on the action without worrying about filling my buffer. I can not say how many images I have missed in the past because my buffer filled at the wrong moment.

Scooting American CootScooting American Coot – Nikon D500, tripod mounted, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The American Coot seemed to turn its head a few times to see if it was still being chased and when it saw that it was it it kept scooting across the surface of the pond and always kept its bill clamped down on its food.

In this frame the reflections are a mix of silvers and coppers.

American Coot being pursuedAmerican Coot being pursued – Nikon D500, tripod mounted, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I am assuming that when the coot felt like it needed more speed it flapped its wings hard to propel it forward. It showed that behavior a few times.

I don’t know what the bright, white reflection was caused by in this frame, I am going to have to go to the pond and figure that out.

American Coot evading another cootAmerican Coot evading another coot – Nikon D500, tripod mounted, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

At the end of this action packed series of images the American Coot slowed down in an area with copper colored reflections. Right after this frame another out of focus coot was at the bottom of the left side of the frame that obscured the full view of the coot I had been photographing so I stopped shooting before the coot ate its well deserved food.

I like the silver and copper colored reflections in these American Coot images but know that is simply a matter of taste and that other people might not like them as much.

Life is good.

Mia

5 Comments

  1. Drew December 14, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Wonderful pictures. I got a kick out of discovering some years ago that this behavior is known as ‘kleptoparasitism’ – a mouthful but it fits the action perfectly!

  2. Elephant's Child December 14, 2016 at 11:50 am

    Watching this brilliant series I can only admire the coot’s digestion. I would have indigestion for days…

  3. Patty Chadwick December 14, 2016 at 9:37 am

    Poor thing! Can’t even eat in peace!.,,.

  4. Liz Cormack December 14, 2016 at 7:42 am

    Wonderful action shots. I should be so lucky!

  5. Bob McPherson December 14, 2016 at 7:32 am

    Beautiful images, Mia.

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