Please iden­tify this swim­ming bird

Bird Watching (UK) - - Your View -

QWe saw this bird swim­ming on the sea close to the Pad­stow Lifeboat Sta­tion on the north Corn­wall coast on 8 Au­gust. It was alone, with the oc­ca­sional Cor­morant or Her­ring Gull close by. It did oc­ca­sion­ally dive like a Coot. The clos­est seabird it re­sem­bled was a Com­mon Scoter, but though there were nine of us look­ing through our scopes, we could not get a bet­ter view than the at­tached photo. We have heard that, on the Con­ti­nent, Coots some­times go into the sea. Alan Tay­lor

A You’re right, it’s a Coot – the fa­mil­iar white ‘shield’ is dis­cernible, and in terms of colour­ing and struc­ture there’s re­ally not any­thing else that fits the bill. Al­though they are es­sen­tially fresh­wa­ter birds, they are some­times seen on the sea, as are a num­ber of other species that we might oth­er­wise as­so­ciate with calm in­land wa­ters – Mute Swans, for ex­am­ple, some­times con­gre­gate in es­tu­ar­ies, swim­ming a short way out to sea and back again. So, this is a re­minder that birds turn up well out of their usual con­text rather more of­ten than you might ex­pect.

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