May 1, 2013
The Life and Times of Beaky the Coot
The month and year form a link to that issue (where files are available). Images shown below come from the corresponding dates. In every case, the date refers to the news that happened the previous month.
I don't remember, but this bird with the broken wing was around at least three or four months ago before I noticed that he was following me everywhere to get a small bit of food. I made it my policy that he wouldn't get fed unless he recognized me and took food from my hand. He seemed to want to get up out of the water in the worst way, so I made a small step on the back of the boat.
Beaky the Coot has a mate! She follows him everywhere and they are
inseparable. She is afraid of me, but quickly learns to recognize me,
and will take food from my hand if Beaky is nearby. Both coots together
are braver now, and come up on the dock to forage if I am working
there. The picture shows the
From looking at pictures that show the color of her feet, I now believe that she was his original mate and about the same age. He has not been as close to any of the subsequent female mates since her. At times he seems bitter and vindictive toward new females.
This pair of coots may have been together for several years before coming here.
It is time to migrate. Both coots are eating and drinking more than usual, and are both gone the second week in March. The next day, Beaky returns, unable to fly with his broken wing. All the other coots are gone.
Beaky is less active and eating very little. He holds up his left foot which seems discolored and swollen. He still drinks, so I gave him antibiotics in his drinking water. After eight days, he seems better, and starts to recover. Months later, a small lump on his left foot still seems to bother him at times, however.
Beaky has been struggling to fly every day and one day, I watched him fly by the back of the boat, land on the water, and paddle back to me. It's too late to migrate now, and he probably can't fly too far anyway.
Beaky has given up on flying now, and in fact, can't even get up on
the boat. He is shedding feathers every time he tries to use his wings.
Coots molt in late July, and by August he seems to have a new coat of
feathers, and can
It's time for the other coots to return from their summer nesting,
but only a few isolated stragglers come and go. Beaky's mate has not
returned. He has met at least two new single female coots, but nothing
Sometimes he seems confused by the rain, but has made it through the remarkable cold weather this winter with no problems. His wings seem to be getting stronger and only needs one step to flap his way up on the boat.
On a windy and rainy morning Beaky the Coot was standing next to me in the back of the boat when he slipped and fell into the cockpit. Without thinking, I reached out and tried to catch him as I would any fallen item on the boat. As I fumbled, I found he didn't want to be caught. In fact, he was terrified and probably thought he would be my next meal. For a couple of weeks after that, he was afraid of me, and wouldn't come on the boat. However, he still wanted to be fed, and would follow me around and take food from my hand as usual. Perhaps he resolved this moral dilemma by blaming the boat. Now, three weeks later, I was able to tempt him to climb back up on the boat for some oats. He is very cautious about checking the part of the boat where he fell, to make sure the monster that grabbed him is not there.
This is a reminder that the coot is a wild animal, not a domestic pet, and carries with him all the experiences and limitations of his kind. He therefore, deserves to be treated with respect.
The several migrant coots have become a source of consternation for Beaky the coot. When they stay outside his territory, he squawks furiously when he sees me feed them. Late in the month three of them ventured inside his territory and were cornered inside the docks. He was forced to fight two of them in coot fashion, grasping the other bird by the neck feathers and slapping it with his feet to hold it under water. They both escaped by swimming away under water. One female remained, and Beaky started courting her by bowing his head. She seemed to respond, but after an hour, she wandered away.
The migrant coots gave an important insight into coot mentality. Perfectly wild animals don't expect other animals to come along and feed them. The coots had a problem figuring out how to get a cracker from me. The small friendly female (above, foreground) would rush up to me and not know what to do. She would look around on the ground, and not find the cracker I held in my hand. Finally, I forced it into her face and she took it. Now, she knew how to get the food, and would get fed regularly while the other coots did not. They were furious, hopping around and squawking, not knowing what to do. For a while two aggressive males tried attacking me and biting my hand as hard as they could to get the cracker. This certainly made sense to them since they would usually fight for food.
Beaky was eventually able to separate a new mate from a transient pair of coots. It seemed unusual that he would tolerate the enemy coots near the boat, but he soon went to work and chased the male away. She apparently liked him and stayed for about two weeks. Beaky appears bitter and vindictive, attacking his new mate whenever she ignores him or turns to me for food. She willingly "nibbles" his head, but he never made any effort to please her. Now in April, she is gone, along with all the other migratory waterfowl. Beaky is sick again, and eating very little, but still hangs around me and shows no inclination to fly or try to migrate.
Only two male coots remain to pester Beaky around the back of the boat. He must chase them away when they come for food. Before the last week in April, they are gone. Beaky suffered from a minor illness for a few weeks and recovered the last week in April. With fewer other birds around, he is able to come up on the boat every day to eat corn and oats. The worm ranch in full production now, so that he gets a handful of worms every morning.
This is unrelated to Beaky the Coot, but I have come to some conclusions after my winter observations of the wild migratory coots. Many migratory coots are organized into small "tribes" of about a dozen members that forage and travel together. While foraging they may be spread over a large area of fifty yards or more but share the same taste in food and foraging skill. They may stay for a day or as long as several months. When they are gone they may be suddenly replaced by another tribe of similar but different coots. It took a day for me to notice not only that a few specific individuals were missing, but that all the new coots were, in fact, different coots. They didn't recognize me either! It seems to me that coots vary as individuals, but small groups of them travel together sharing the same taste and abilities unique and different from other groups of coots.
The coot has two different hailing calls. The common squawk call is used when the coot has someone in sight. The coot will occasionally use this call or an abbreviated "click" version of it when he sees me and wants to be fed. The remarkable "coo-wah" call is used when the coot is trying to find someone who should be there, but is not in sight. I seldom hear this call, but it was unmistakable when I had stayed on the boat overnight on Independence Day weekend and did not get up early enough for the coot to find me. I expect the coot has used this call many times in the past but I was never there to hear it.
The coot completed molting and now has a new coat of feathers.
About the second week in August, someone badly frightened the coot near my boat when I was gone. Now he is afraid to come up on the boat and is suspicious of me when approaching first thing in the morning. I expect that the diver that cleans the bottom of the boat may have startled him since that is about the time the diver was there.
Coots are quite good at expressing their feelings about something nearby, but it is difficult for him to express an abstract concept on something that varies in time or distance. He will worry about this for only a few weeks, but will probably never be comfortable again. In the past he seemed to enjoy standing on the back of the boat to view his territory for hours at a time, but now knows that it is a dangerous place.
The coot is still afraid to come up on the boat but now comes up on the steps. He has improved in his use of his feet to hop down steps so that he is able to do this routinely. Experiments with a coot decoy show that the coot does not recognize the decoy as being real, but responds to a mirror as if it were another coot.
Beaky the dominant male coot was defeated in battle by another large male coot and driven from his territory. Ten days later the new coot is gone and Beaky returns to his territory when I stop feeding birds there. At the end of the month a new female coot is with Beaky and they appear to be bonding as mates. She is well trained and docile.
Beaky the Coot has returned to climbing onto the boat after a three month absence. The relationship with a new mate continues and she expresses herself with a variety of displays and calls. She uses the danger display on intruders and stamps her foot on the dock at them. Both she and Beaky use the dabbling display as a greeting when separated.
The water level at Lake Murray has been reduced for construction on the dam. Two or three hundred coots there have been forced away from their normal feeding and nesting areas.
Little has changed at Lake Murray except that the coots there have changed from foraging for food in the bushes to begging food from people. I found pairs of coots defending territory at the north end of the lake where there are good nesting spots with reeds and growing vegetation. They are probably maintaining normal territory adequate for their support, while the other coots in small flocks are driven out on the lake into neutral territory.
The female pet coot was gone on migration on schedule the 16th of March as expected. Beaky is not worried, and continues on alone patrolling his territory. Different coots are still at the nearby park, but are probably recent travelers on spring migration. The coots along the sidewalk are still here, but many of them may be different coots. One female remains here at the beginning of April 2006.
The starving coots are gone from Lake Murray and the population there is limited to several local mated pairs of coots. The previously starving coots were winter migrants. Many of the coots suffered from an eye disease caused by parasites in the water. There is no indication of starvation or disease in the local coots. Beaky the Coot wanders the marina aimlessly with a remarkable lack of any kind of birds.
The coot is not sick this spring but seems to be taking the solitude harder than usual for spring migration. He disappeared for a week and I was unable to find him, but it appears that he never left the marina. He is eating little, but seems to do better when I arrive at the marina at sunrise to greet him. He used an unusual wing flapping display on a pair of mallards that appeared unexpectedly on the dock. I am feeding him meal worms and using a liquid vitamin supplement in his drinking water to prepare for the molt coming next month.
The coot seems healthier and is eating more at the end of June. I am absent from the marina for a few days at a time, and he is foraging with a small family of juvenile ducks that are about his size.
The coot was extremely excited about finding a perfect nest site and continued to call me until I went over to look at it. He was gathering sticks, twigs, and trash under the stern of a dinghy on a plastic float. After a week he gave up on the nest.
The coot struggles through molting helped by worms and vitamins. A new type of meal worm called super worms does not make a good protein diet supplement because of bad taste.
Beaky the Coot continues to be nervous and wary after loss of his wing feathers. He had the same problem last year. A new female arrived on the last day of September but she seems to have wandered away.
The new female is named "Missy", and quickly establishes her position as Beaky's new mate.
She is slow to communicate, but has a complete vocabulary. She quickly learns about getting food from the dishes on the dock, and becomes more easily handled and hand fed.
Missy Coot has become very expressive, and will cluck, slap her foot, and fluff up her feathers at Beaky Coot. This brings questions about whether these displays are instinctive or learned.
The coots try various kinds of poultry feed. Beaky appears weak, but recovers quickly. Seagulls are an increasing hazard for the coots. The first cold weather has arrived the last day in November.
Coots from last year have returned this winter. Marvin and Beaky Coot's mate from last year are back. I was unable to help an injured coot with a broken wing that came through the marina. Several coots were killed by cars on Marina Parkway nearby. Both government and private animal control and rescue agencies are useless to help this problem. Finally the birds themselves seem to have become aware of the danger and run away from cars.
Coots no longer venture into the street on Marina Parkway to be killed by cars. There was a mass killing of coots on Marina Parkway January 26. I decided not to join Project Wildlife because of their inability to communicate with the public, and poor treatment of volunteers. Missy Coot is getting some yellow color on her upper beak. The experimental nest attached to the boat was carried away by weather and the coots seem to prefer the old nest on a Jetski platform on the opposite dock.
Missy Coot is early to leave for migration on March 11. She was always eager and impatient. Beaky Coot had repeatedly called her over to his nest with lots of squawking and squabbling. She tried to sit on his nest for two days, but the Jet-ski platform wouldn't work. By the end of March there are still four wild coots remaining at the marina and twenty or thirty coots at the park. The water level has been restored at Lake Murray and the coots there are much happier this spring.
Beaky Coot pulls his food dish into the water and pushes it around until he has had enough to eat. . He is in good health and more relaxed. Marvin leaves on migration.
Beakycoot.com was established this month, as the old America Online beakycoot FTP site was deleted by AOL without warning. Many back issues of Coot News were lost.
Beaky Coot is eating small but normal amounts of food and appears every morning at 5:45 to eat. I used an automatic pet feeder to dispense dishes of oats over a three day period when I am away. In the last days of June, Beaky Coot is obsessed with his nest on an opposite dock. He wakes up in the morning, calling for his mate and looking for his nest, but they both are gone.
Beaky Coot starts the month with a panic of furious nest building activity only to be caught up in the coots' annual molt. He started shedding feathers in mid July and has lost almost all his wing flight feathers by the end of July.
Beaky's feathers are growing back. His left foot was bothering him, but he recovered quickly. The blackbird came to eat Beaky's food. Beaky bathes in a boat's bottom liner filled with fresh water and chlorine. Little has changed in August. Beaky Coot continued to regrow his feathers, and has almost completely recovered from molting
Missy Coot returned very early on fall migration on September 8. She is very hungry and somewhat modest and demure compared to her first arrival last September 30. The yellow coloring starting to show on her beak from last spring is gone now. This year she is showing her white tail coverts in an unusual change in her feathers. She bows and bows to Beaky and soon he is nibbling her head. She has a sore right foot and shows her foot for a picture.
New coots arrive every day, in large and small flocks and as individuals or mated pairs. One male decided to stay at the marina and is named Freddie. Missy is nervous about eating food from the dock that belongs to Beaky. Her feathers were in disarray for a few weeks, but I could find no evidence of lice or mites. She now seems to have recovered. Huge fires in October put a scum of ash on the water but it didn't seem to affect the birds.
The new arrival named Freddie is the first returnee from last winter. Two other male returnees and a new female join him during the month. Marvin returns on November 23 with a female companion. A small dog prevents Beaky and Missy from eating on the boat.
December 10 brought the first ice on the docks. Every year the winter is colder and the freeze comes earlier. Southern California is in the cooling phase of a twenty or thirty year climate cycle. The new resident coots have now established their respective territories around the marina, and work to maintain them. Freddie was pecked in the head in a coot fight. Other species of waterfowl appear in the marina. The flock of migrant coots at the park have been staying out of the street, and none of them have been killed by cars.
Two coots from the park were killed in the street on Marina Parkway. One was driven into the street by dogs only to be killed by a car. Various forms of legal and political harassment appear, and several new links are posted. "DO NOT FEED" signs have no legal or biological meaning according to UPD employees. Four tame Greylag geese disappear on January 19. Marvin's face changes, and a Spotted bass frightens Beaky. Flocks of coots move around the area, and several stay to feed along the sidewalk by the parking lot.
There are more questions about the Port of San Diego as the ground squirrels have disappeared and Bromadiolone bait boxes are located around the park nearby. The mallards have started laying eggs, and more cold weather puts ice and frost on the docks. Short coot movies were made and will appear in other parts of this web page. The coots have a greater sense of urgency as migration is coming next month. Approximately one hundred coots were counted among the three Port of San Diego parks nearby.
Spring has come to San Diego, and Freddie and Mollie are gone. But, many of the coots are still here, including Marvin. Missy, the early bird, is still here on the last day of March. At least 120 coots wintered here, a considerable increase in numbers since last year.
Missy left on the last night of March, but Marvin stayed until the middle of April. The Number Two male was also here until April 25. Beaky was more tolerant of the other males and they would all come to the boat to eat. The baby sparrows fledged out by the third week in April, and only one baby Blue Heron is in the nest at Bayfront Park. Beaky is eating less, but still appears to be in good health at the end of April.
Coots at Lake Murray suffer from broken limbs and eye-fluke infestation. Beaky makes a few futile attempts to fly away, and wanders around calling for his mate. However, he remains in good health and it still eating and drinking normally, but in small amounts. A pair of gulls are able to catch fish in the marina, and make an unsuccessful attempt to build a nest.
In June a mysterious mealworm shortage threatens to limit dietary protein available for molting in July. Super worms are available however, in smaller sizes, that the coot now likes more than anything else. Pro-feda vitamin supplement is added for molting, also. The ducks have a drinking fountain. Beaky's nest is uncovered, allowing him access for his July nest building efforts. He calls to me when at his nest using the "come here" coot call.
Animals in the marina pass the Independence Day Holiday night in peace without the usual terror of the fireworks display. A stray wild male coot appears in the marina, and Beaky chases him away. Coots at Chollas Lake are happy and healthy with babies of various ages. Beaky works on his nest for a while, and remains in good health with bright yellow feet, and swollen frontal shield. Major demolition all around the marina is finished, with the constant reminder that the marina is the next to go.
Beaky Coot struggles through the molt again this month, but a few days later than usual. The blackbirds also molt, but differently. The mallards congregate in the parking lot and sidewalk, and do not bother the coot on the docks. More vegetation that sustains winter migrants is removed just days before migration. Information about pelagic birding and pictures of a Caspian tern are included with pictures of the tiny Spotted sandpiper.
The ospreys displaced from nesting across the street make a mess at the marina. An unusual leucistic duck appears at the marina, and a pied billed grebe stays until the end of September. Twenty mallards disappeared from the marina and the crime is to be investigated by California Department of Fish & Game as an illegal take. A few new coots appear early in migration. A remarkable new female coot appears at the end of the month and moves in with Beaky.
The new female companion is named Monday, and she is very calm and smart but not completely tame. She and Beaky work together to maintain their territory in the marina. Both she and Beaky now like to eat corn, and she is able to walk down stairs. The new male arrival is not Freddie, but another male returnee from last winter. So far none of the other five returnees have arrived. A pigeon louse fly was seen on a pelican in San Diego Bay.
Gaylord withdrew plans for redevelopment that would have meant the demoliton of the two marinas here. Beaky and Monday eat on the boat's swimstep with easier and safer access. A few eared grebes appear and the crows are busy in the parking lot. New coots are arriving, but not yet in the large numbers expected. Marvin returned November 22. None of the other five coots from last year have returned. Some of the vegetation around the south edge of the bay remains, but probably will soon be lost.
A Common loon appeared in the marina. Small migratory flocks arrived around the three parks, but not in such great numbers as the past years. These birds don't go far from the water to forage, and are in no danger from the cars on Marina Parkway. Ten new migrant coots (including Marvin) are fed every day at the marina. It is a sad migration without the five missing winter residents from previous years.
Male stingrays grow teeth and threaten to bite the coots. Brants Geese visit the bay. Wild coots stay in the marina and some can hop up on the docks. Beaky collects nesting material. Ducks take over Beaky's roost and cause problems. USDA kills 5000 starlings in New Jersey. The San Diego Port District works for free. Landfills attract wild birds and burn them with flames. New departments are added to the news.
The crippled blackbird lost her foot. Animals suffer from the cold rainy weather. All the vegetation around the marina is dead. A sea lion came to terrify the birds in the marina. The fish in the marina are getting bigger and come to be fed with the coots. The osprey and blue herons are nesting. The coots are all nervous and excited at the end of the month, probably sensing an early spring migration.
Herbicide spraying at the marina and Port of San Diego continues at an alarming rate, everything is dead. A skunk appears nearby. The blackbirds are gone. Swallows arrive and begin their nests, about two weeks late. The Fosters terns are here in the mornings again. Monday is gone on the last day of March and Beaky struggles to defend his territory without her.
A seal frightens the coots. There are still problems with the herbicide. More ducks are taken as two broods of chicks disappear. Marvin leaves on April 11, and most coots are gone while travelers arrive to stay a few days and then go. The baby doves fledged out on April 17. A gopher and crow are seen in Bayside park and a broken Bromadiolone poison bait box is found. The swallows are late, and much fewer than last year. The last coot is a female. The blue herons have a chick. The fish are bigger than ever and feed with the coots.
Killing of the ducks seems to have stopped in May with a warning from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. However, upwards of a hundred ducks and at least as many eggs were killed, and at no cost. Beaky tries to migrate, but does not seem sick. Killing the clover in the lawn is ineffective. Clover is a nitrogen fixer and beneficial to plant life. The doves make a new nest in a lamp and Beaky is not bothered by a diesel fuel spill in the marina. Repair work on the end of the dock starts after complaints to the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Problems with the ducks continues with reported harassment of citizens using the Port of San Diego parks. A runner duck is seen at the Chula Vista Bayfront Park. The ducklings have difficulty climbing up and down the riprap and one is missing on June 30. Another dove is fledged out. Beaky socializes with the egret and ducks. The blackbirds bring their new babies to the boat.
There may be more threats of killing wild birds here, but July passes quietly. Beaky makes his nest of eelgrass and it looks more like a nest than ever before. By the last week of the month he stops crowing and calling and settles down. But he has not started his molt yet. Fiver the blackbird becomes a faithful visitor, but is gone on July 9. Various birds drink and bathe in a bottom liner filled with fresh water. The grass in Bayside park has not recovered yet, but clover patches thrive. Swallows swoop through the air catching insects.
Beaky Coot sheds his wing feathers late this year, and has his wings about half grown by the end of the month. The blackbirds suffer various ailments including being impaled with a blow dart. Some of the plants try to grow back around the marina, but are sprayed with herbicide. Irrigation continues however. Efforts to gain criminal indictments for killing the ducks have failed, making it appear that these laws (US Code Title 16) are unenforceable.
Beaky Coot's wing feathers are fully regrown by the middle of the month. Only one pied billed grebe and spotted sandpiper are winter returnees. A female coot appeared alone on September 23, but she was extremely shy and wild, and did not stay. Fiver's Father is gone, the female blackbird impaled with a dart comes to visit a few times, and two male blackbirds are frequent visitors. The juvenile gull must have attacked Beaky since he is now afraid of gulls. He seeks various hiding places even though the summer molt is over. He still likes lettuce more than anything.
Monday Coot returned on October 11. She is a bit shy and nervous when a new female tries to take her place with Beaky. The new female is very quick and smart and quickly learns to stay away from Beaky and Monday. The seagulls continue to be a threatening terror for the coots, especially the juvenile gull from last spring. A Clark's grebe and eared grebe come to visit.
Beaky charging at enemies in November of 2009
Marvin returned on November 12 for his fifth winter. Monday performs the unusual hopping and flapping display on the dock by the steps. Wild coots learn to hide from the gulls under the corners of the boat slips. A sick cormorant recovers, and a crippled and entangled duck is rescued and released. Monday has the same problem with her feathers as Missy in her second year, but recovers quickly. The "hopping coots" return and fly around like sparrows. Demolition of the power plant begins sooner than expected. Some of the red spike ice plant is sprouting, and brings welcome relief for the hungry coots.
Stupid Marvin is now a full grown large aggressive male coot. He sets out to kill Beaky and take over Beaky's territory inside the yacht basin. Beaky is likely to fight to the death since he has nowhere else to go. Once I grabbed Beaky to protect him from Marvin, and now Beaky is also terrified of me. The month ends with Beaky no longer among the landed gentry, and living in fear of Marvin. Feeding Beaky takes a lot of patience now, he is slightly injured, but he is still alive. Winter weather brings cold wind and rain and a one day count produces about 65 coots in the marina and three parks. A palm tree by the parking lot is dead.
Cold weather and severe storms make problems for the birds, but the osprey nest survives with at least one chick in a new location on G Street. Beaky is afraid of Marvin, but is vicious to other coots. Beaky is able to use his injured leg. Weed killer is still applied to the iceplant and fish are killed by storm water runoff.
It is difficult to get worms delivered alive in the cold weather. The osprey start a new nest at Sandpiper Way and G Street. The clover helps the lawns to recover from weed killer. Dead fish are found in the marina and a tree is uprooted by wind. Beaky is injured in fights.
The first freezing weather comes on February 23. The last two storms of the month are warmer, bringing hopes of an early spring. The Port is spraying weed killer in the parks again. Beaky has new enemies among the coots as he continues to lose his place of dominance with the intruders. Small birds previously thought to be sparrows are actually house finches. New marina security officers are hired to police the tenants during the days in addition to nights.
Forty Brants geese are counted in south bay. The blackbirds are making calls and displays as mating approaches. Ducks and coots fight over water. Beaky develops skills to avoid the other coots so that he can be fed. Monday is gone on March 22 and the Intelligent Female was gone a week earlier. The first swallow and tern are seen on March 23, and 24. Ducks are moving back into the parking lots for breeding and nesting. On March 28, all the wild coots change from territorial to migratorial, and Beaky fights to retain his lost territory on the boat.
Marvin is gone the first week in April. Two coots stay but turn out to be males, and are gone by the third week of April. Something terrifies the coots on the north side of the dock, and beaky moves to the south side. The blackbirds are gone except for one mated pair. The male returns at sporadic times through the month, but his foot disease is getting worse. Eleven mallard chicks hatch but none can be found by the end of the month. The female mallard of J Dock has one chick that lasts only one day. The spotted sandpiper now has spots. Cold and rainy weather continues through the end of April.
The month passes slowly as Beaky only makes one or two attempts to migrate and the weather is more moderate. Birds have difficulty with the handle removed from the water faucet while the parking lots are flooded with irrigation water. The male blackbird is a faithful visitor, but the infection in his feet gets worse. There is some hope for the ducks as the killing seems to have stopped. Exotic needlefish hatch out in the marina. Elections in June bring new laws that may make it more difficult to get rid of the two marinas in south bay.
A crippled surf scoter remains in the bay three months late for migration. Beaky is thinking of making his nest, and becoming nervous as the molt approaches next month. The marina management produces more petty threats and harassment. The miserable crippled blackbirds are more miserable and more crippled.
Beaky becomes excited when it is time to make his nest on Independence Day. The gulls at Harbor Island have babies. The blackbirds continue to suffer. A water dripper circumvents marina employees' efforts. The marina displays more embarrassing signs. More used car sales are advertised at the marina. Movies show the Big Fish and pigeons eating.
Beaky is late in molting. The old blackbirds continue to suffer while new blackbirds fledge out. Beaky misses a friend, and September 2008 is remembered.
Two new birds, a grebe and a coot appear in September, but migration has not started. Beaky moves into his new territory, slowly and carefully. The duck population remains the same, but they stay away from the parking lot.
Monday returned October 13 and Beaky accepts her arrival. Both Beaky and Monday have trouble finding the boat and are often lost on the wrong side of the dock. The HoppingCoot returned on October 28 and became an aggressive enemy for Beaky. A juvenile coot in gray feathers appeared on October 31.
The hopping coot enemy has gone away after not being fed. More weed killer is applied by the Port. New male coots arrive and are not a serious problem. Monday learns how to find the boat and Beaky in the mornings. Monday becomes territorial and aggressive to help Beaky.
Beaky is feared dead following a severe winter storm on Dec 18. Beaky and Monday had been working together well. Monday knows how to find the boat and comes for breakfast every day at the end of the month. Beaky returned for feeding on Dec 28. He seems to be terrified of something at the boat. A flock of about twenty migrant coots were seen on the grass at one of the parks.
Beaky returns to the boat every morning, and Monday comes to help whenever she can. Beaky runs away when he is outnumbered by enemy coots. Starvin' Marvin returns for his sixth winter to find that he is no longer a dominant male. Blackbirds return for morning feeding. The blue herons catch jacksmelt in the mornings. Coot News carries daily links and news about the Facebook "Stop the Crow and Magpie Cull!" group for readers who are not on Facebook. A cold, wet, and windy storm comes at the end of February testing the birds to see which ones may survive to return home for breeding in March.
Problems with feeding Beaky in the mornings continue in March. Monday's sore foot gets worse in January, but the large blister disappears in February. Coot News carries daily links and news about the Facebook "Stop the Crow and Magpie Cull!" group for readers who are not on Facebook.
In March it becomes impossible to avoid the wild coots by feeding Beaky earlier in the morning. The enemy male coots are out before two AM, or perhaps stay up all night. For a while it seems like the coots will settle down to prepare for migration and become less aggressive, but hostilities continue through March. About a hundred migrant coots are at the parks, but fewer other birds have spent the winter here. Monday is gone on migration March 24, and Rachel left the week before.
All the wild coots are gone by the middle of April, except Baby Coot. The blackbirds are gone, and all the other migrant waterfowl are gone. There are a few terns and swallows in the marina. Beaky is angry and tries to chase Baby away, but Baby is still here.
Beaky begins to tolerate Baby Coot until Baby leaves on May 9. Beaky struggles to cope with migration and nesting. The UK corvid cull nightmare becomes a reality.
Beaky remembers how to climb up onto the dock. The blue herons, gulls, and osprey have chicks. Beaky misses the other birds, and squawks and crows at any loud noise, or nothing at all.
The lost blackbirds return, Beaky has a foot problem, and the doves build a nest and start a family.
The doves' nest fails. Beaky begins molting his wing feathers. Beaky arrives for feeding earlier each day as the ducks begin to cause trouble for him. The blackbirds finish their molt with new feathers.
Nothing is new this month. There are no new migrant birds and the parks have only a few ducks and gulls. Beaky's feathers are growing back.
Monday returned on October 1 for her fourth winter here. Only a few other arrivals appeared late in the month. Both Beaky and Monday have foot problems.
Male coots return on migration to challenge Beaky and drive him away. Big Boy returns and gives Beaky a sound beating. Beaky now fears Big Boy and stays on the opposite side of the dock, while Big Boy stays outside of the north end of the marina. About 200 migrant coots can be seen around south bay.
A ferocious male coot arrives to chase Beaky away but Beaky is able to return after the enemy is not fed. Beaky and Monday find ways to cope with winter problems. Stupid Marvin returns for his seventh winter here. Migrant coots number around 200 this winter, and are killed in the street by cars. Beaky bites Monday and she stays away for a few days.
A third femal coot is seen in the marina. Dabbling is explained. Big Boy feeds the blackbirds. Coots and a rabbit are killed. A seal appears to terrify the coots. Beaky attacks the nuisance coot. Stingrays are breeding. Monday fights with Rachel over territory. The "Nuisance Coot" gets a beating from Beaky. On the last day of the month, Beaky is defeated by the Nuisance Coot and is driven away from the boat.
The marina has a mild winter. A funny little male coot wants to fight. There are more pictures of the stingrays.
Beaky the Coot is dead and gone forever. Monday is gone on migration. Birds begin to attempt spring nesting. A killing cold winter storm blows through California in the third week of March. Big Boy and Rachel are still here at the end of the month.
This picture of Beaky was taken February 21, 2012.
Birds stay on in small numbers, but the spring migration is essentially over. New signs appear at the Chula Vista RV Resort.
The last few coots are gone in May. The swallows find a new nest. The doves attempt another nest, but are soon gone along with the boat they were nesting on. A trip to Chollas Lake brings more spring pictures.
The gulls hatch two chicks at Harbor Island. A possum gets a picture. Power failures are expected in the summer, and state and local government agencies cause trouble for boat owners.
Wild birds at Lake Murray face new challenges, but appear to be in good condition. Few ducks are hatched at the marina and the blackbirds return...
A San Diego news reporter tries to find out why the US government is killing coots and crows here. Caspian Terns are feeding here in the bay. Kaiser on the GMO. Lots of news links. A miserable month in August.
Beach sand replenishment kills thousands of animals and boat owners pay for it. Coots return to Chollas Lake on Fall Migration. No coots have returned to San Diego Bay.
Blackbirds return to the marina, and a few migrant coots are in south bay, but no familiar coots have returned from last year. Very few migratory birds are here. The Port continues to harass small boat owners with a useless pollution control program, and fall elections begin.
Wigeons die in an apparent botulism outbreak. Two coots return from last year's migration. One is Rachel, and the other, unnamed last year, is called Elmo. Rachel spends much of her time away from the marina. Elmo appears every morning, but does not claim territory at the boat. Pictures show two gulls fighting.
The coots establish territories and relationships in the marina. Porpoise visit the marina. A Great White Heron is photographed in the marina. A good number of coots winter at the park and Lake Murray. Turkey Vultures are seen at Lake Murray. There are too many pictures to list. There is ice on the docks on December 31.
Birds are killed again by drivers on Marina Parkway. Elmo gets a beating. State Department of Parks and Recreation are caught red-handed misappropriating funds.
The South Bay Power Plant is exploded. Few coots are killed. A crippled female coot in the park recovers. Big Boy is found to be much older than previously believed. Warm weather comes to California.
The blue heron catches fish from the docks. Five active blue heron nests are reported. The coots begin spring migration.
All the coots are gone on migration, gradually disappearing over a few weeks. Squirrels survive at Marina View Park. Problems with crop canker are examined. A few coots survive at a golf course.