Sunday, February 17, 2013

Don’t Coots….

….have strange looking feet!

Great for walking around on unstable footing, though.SAM_4620
Of course, these water birds are rails (Rallidae), rather than the ubiquitous duck, and are specially adapted for mooching about in reed-beds and other vegetative water fringes. Like the moorhen, another common resident, their long toes allow them to spread their weight over a bigger area.
I just hadn’t realised how odd they look. There’s a large population on the old gravel pits adjacent to the marina, and they’re used to being fed and are therefore bolder than most of those out on the canal. It’s rare to get so close to one on land.
They’re not so good for propulsion, of course, and running…. well I burst out laughing this morning as a coot hurried up the bank to the breadcrumbs and fell a**e over tip over it’s own toenails.

Black-Headed Gulls sunbathing on the ice this morningSAM_4605
Yes, I know they’ve not got black heads. They’re still in winter plumage. When they moult in the spring the new feathers will include a distinctive black ski-mask.

I’ve seen some weird and wonderful additions to narrowboats over the years we’ve been afloat, but this is a first….
Yes it is a wheelie bin!
They’re often encountered in the cut…..

Reflections of the access bridge from the opposite towpath.SAM_4604

The other day I spotted a small damp patch next to the front cabin steps. On investigation I found that the domestic water pump had started to leak. Unfortunately not from the outlet side or the regular “running-up” of the pump to recharge the system would have alerted me sooner.
It’s happened before, about 3 years ago, but then the water ran a considerable distance under the laminate flooring and the corner cupboards before I realised. This time it was nothing like as bad, just affecting the area under the steps.
I bought a new pump and a repair kit for the old one last time, so had a spare to fit straight away, but didn’t want a leak to have such an effect the next time. So I’ve moved the pump position from the floor adjacent to the tank onto a drop down panel, vertically mounted on the face of the forward bulkhead. Any drips now will drop into a shallow tray which can be regularly checked through the access hatch to the tank, and it’s oh so much easier to get at the pump now than it was.

Easy access from within the top step.

All closed up and ready for me to replace all my tools…..
Note the lagging around the pipework in the top picture. The pipes froze in January 2009. Not since.
I’ve a seal kit for the leaking pump on order at Shobnall Chandlery.

Mags is still making steady progress, she’s sometimes a little wobbly and her left hand isn’t as strong as it was, but she’s getting there.

Early this afternoon, as I was heading back after a ball-chuck session with Meg, a boat on the canal gave me a shout and a wave. It was Jan and a couple of friends on NB Jandai.
They were moored in Birmingham in January when Dai had a fatal heart attack while out walking the dog, Foxxie.
I sorted Meg out then jumped on my bike to meet them at Barton Lock as they dropped down. Jan seems to be bearing up, although she’s not decided yet about the future and boating. Enjoy the trip to Thailand, Jan, and all the very best. Hope to see you again soon.

In response to a couple of the comments on my last post…

Hi Tom, yes that’s probably the easier solution. I have one already, cut to fit the side I’ve fitted the doors to, so it’s too short for t’other side. And it’s glued together with Araldite after it fell out one time… A new one with a hardwood frame would look better, eh.

Pip, I racked my brains to get around making them weatherproof, but in the end admitted defeat. It could be done, but I’d have had to leave the interior doors open when the exterior ones were shut. Not such an elegant solution. And anyway, I’d rather have the exterior doors shut in wet weather to protect the varnished panels.



Anonymous said...

Did you know that in every flock of coots there is a dominant male? He is known as the over coot...

Geoff and Mags said...

You know, I always thought he was the reign-coot!