Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #25

Chris Watson

Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles

Defensive dive-bombers

When I was kid, this bird was called a Spur-winged Plover. Indeed it does have a bony “spur” protruding from near the carpal joint on its wing – that part of the limb which is analogous to our wrist. These days though, it has been renamed and is referred to as a Masked Lapwing.

They are fiercely territorial and will dive-bomb anyone or anything that encroaches near their eggs or young. Anyone who has inadvertently stepped into one of these birds’ territories will know what I mean – the battle cries are instantaneous, “EK – EK – EK!”

            They couple this strong territorial instinct with the most ridiculous nesting arrangements. In fact, they don’t really make a nest. Their eggs are a well camouflaged speckled texture and they just lay them straight onto the ground. When they hatch, the fluffy chicks are a black and grey dappled colour and blend beautifully with the surface, making them easy to tread on by accident.

            This Masked Lapwing was at the sewage ponds but they can usually be found in flocks on and around Blatherskite Park, Traeger Oval, or anywhere else you can find a nice open area of grass with some water nearby.

Sightings this week: 

-          Black Falcon has been seen hunting around Ilparpa Swamp this week

-          Pied Honeyeater seen in a few spots around the back of Ellery Creek Big Hole

-          2 Southern Boobook owls seem to be courting around Cliffside Court and Dixon Road

-          30 Little Corellas at the Convention Centre

-          20 Red-tailed Black Cockatoos at the end of Heffernan Road