corders in the hague

It's like having the Corders round for dinner - except the kids don't smash stuff and Mike doesn't drink all your booze. And when you're bored you can get rid of us with a mouse click rather than having to start tidying up the house.

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Location: The Hague, Netherlands

Monday, May 21, 2007

Fuut and emu chick

This thing's called a fuut in Dutch. I don't know what they're called in English, but my guess would be a Great Crested Grebe. Now that I write the word grebe it looks and sounds so absurd I can't imagine anybody would call anything a grebe, but there you are.
A quick Internet search has confirmed that it is indeed a GCG.
If you click on the picture it should enlarge and you can see an emu chick sitting on its back. Not sure how it got there.
This family was paddling along a canal around the corner from our house where I take the dog for walks.
It's a pretty Darwinian stretch of water. For the last few weeks, ducks grebes and other water birds have been hatching their chicks and proudly paddling around showing off the new brood.
One day you see a duck with about 14 chicks bobbing it its wake and a couple of days later you count again and there are only 11 or so. A week later, there are about six. The chicks are under fire from above and below.
Herons prowl the river banks at this time of year. They usually dine on fish and frogs, but they apparently love the taste of newborn chicks too. Added to that, you sometimes get pike swimming in the rivers and rising from the murky depths like the shark in the iconic Jaws poster to grab the chicks. I saw this happen once and it's an alarming thing: Chick tootling along, quick splash, chick gone, ripples spread, mother duck looks around before shrugging her shoulders and herding the remaining family somewhere she perceives as slightly more safe. Bubbles pop on surface of water releasing sound of pike after-dinner burp.
A new risk, albeit a very small one, has emerged in the shape of Dingo who loves chasing birds. However, despite an elaborate hunting technique involving crouching on three legs to spy on possible prey and then crawling almost on his belly towards them (think lions stalking zebra in a David Attenbrough documentary), he always times his run just as the birds take off (in the case of pigeons) or hop into the canal (ducks, grebes etc) instead of slightly earlier.
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