Meet the Neighbours


Masked Lapwing

Masked Lapwing, commonly knows as a plover. These are common in my area.

Not long ago I photographed a Masked Lapwing, commonly known as a plover on the piece of land adjacent to my house. I commented at the time that these birds visit that area quite often. They never come into the back garden but they do like the lawn beside the driveway where they grub for worms and other insects.

Last Sunday I noticed a pair of them in the driveway acting in a very territorial way walking about and screeching. I hadn’t seen them act that way before.  As it is spring I wondered if it had something to do with the mating season although one of the birds seemed to be standing rather oddly and I did wonder if there was something the matter with it.

The following day I found out what it was. Chicks. The adult birds were walking about screeching but on the lawn were four chicks. I’d never seen plover chicks before so I was very interested. I would love to have photographed them but it was raining heavily and very windy as well. I contented myself with watching them out of the kitchen window. Soon the chicks ran to their mother and snuggled in under her wings. She stood there in the pouring rain and wind protecting them from the elements and predators. She had no shelter at all and I felt sorry for them. I wished they were in a safer, drier place. I found a picture on the internet showing what the chicks look like.

 

Young Masked Lapwing.jpg
By Amos T Fairchild – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Later I spent some time reading  about plovers because I wondered where they had been nesting and how long it would be before the babies could fly. They build their nests on the ground, it is described as a single scrape usually away from ground cover. They often choose to nest in places like road verges, playing fields and other places you would not think were great nesting sites. The birds mate for life and they choose a territory during the winter; the female will lay up to four eggs which both parents take care of. Once the chicks are hatched they leave the nest within hours and the parents guard them while they wander about feeding themselves. That is the reason for all the screeching as the parents protect them from harm, even swooping on any creature they consider a threat including humans. According to what I have read the chicks will not fly until they are six or seven weeks old. I have no idea how old the ones I’ve seen are but I suspect not very old.

The next day I looked for the plover family again but contractors came to cut the grass on the part of the land that belongs to the power substation next to me. I was worried about the chicks and didn’t see the family until late in the day. They were up the top of a slope and I could not see how many of them there were. It was only late the  next afternoon when they were down on the lawn again that I was able to count them properly and I was very relieved to see there were still four of them.

The weather was bad again but I decided to try to take some pictures with my 300mm zoom lens through the window. Naturally they did not come out well and I had to crop them a lot. I will keep trying though. I might risk going outside to take some when the weather improves but I ‘ll have to be careful or I’ll upset the parents.  When I think of all the things that could happen to these little birds I feel quite anxious about them but I know there is nothing I can do about it.

Out for a stroll with mum or dad.

Out for a stroll with mum.

 

I hope I’ll see the chicks grow up over the next few months and be able to continue to take photographs of them.

Further Reading:

http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/?base=16106

http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Vanellus-miles

6 thoughts on “Meet the Neighbours

  1. This bird speciels looks beautiful too. First time I see them. You have very interesting birds over there. The chicks look way too cute. I like the last image, you can clearly see how the mother takes care when the chick walks forward 🙂 I am curious about your next photos, in case the weather improves.

    The majority of my bird photos are taken from the hiking trails, because I try not to interfere too much and that means I can feel with you… 300mm is still not the perfect focal length for birding when you have to be on distance for some reason, but I am like you, I’d rather crop the hell out of the image than showing nothing at all, especially when it’s a bird you don’t see every day. At the end it’s always about the subject and if you want to report about what you have seen, that is photography to me too. The truth is in fact that blogging introduced me into photography, not the other way around. I am proud when I had luck to take a nice close-up shot that I don’t have to crop, but if there is no other way, I will crop the image and write about what I have found.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂 It’s interesting to see birds that I didn’t know yet. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • As said, I do the same. 🙂 I have several photos of grey herons and of great white egrets in my offline library that I am going to show in the future. The grey heron photos are almost ok, but the egret photos are bad due to the distance but I will show them anyway some day. I don’t see them every day, and just the pure fact that I saw them, makes the photos be trophies to me despite of the quality 🙂 We both are not professional National Geographics photographers with lenses that are as expensive as a new car, or the money to travel the world to find the most interesting subjects 😀 As you said, it’s often just about the story. To me, every picture is a success, and I define success on a way that I did spend a good time with my hobby.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You photograph is not bad at all. How lovely to be able to watch the parents take care of their brood. Looking forward to hear more about their progress.

    Like

  3. That baby walking in front of its parent is so cute! I understand about worrying over them. I feel the same way about the baby squirrel. I just want to follow it around to protect it! I hope your baby plovers stay safe so you can watch them grow. How exciting to have neighbors like this!

    Liked by 1 person

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