Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #77 - Black-fronted Dotterel

Chris Watson

Black-fronted Dotterel Elseyornis melanops

The Black-fronted Dotterel is a small wader of shallow waterways. They forage in the open, along sandy or pebbled shores and will spy you coming from a long way off and move away to keep their distance from you. 

This species may already be breeding wherever it finds a bit of water. Rather than constructing a nest, these birds lay their eggs directly on the ground where they are perfectly camouflaged against the sand – when the chicks hatch they could also be overlooked as they have superbly cryptic plumage. The first sign that the bird has eggs or chicks in the area will be the “broken-wing” display. This is a well-known avian ruse. An adult bird flutters over to you and flaps around in a convincing imitation of an injured bird. It hopes that this attracts your curiosity, (especially if you are a potential predator of eggs and chicks) and it will stay just out of reach but continue to flutter and lead you away from the area where it is rearing its family.

So please take care if you are strolling beside our waterways at the moment – there may be hidden eggs underfoot.

Scarlet-chested Parrots an hour south of town trumped all other reports this week for sheer rarity, and the sewage ponds remain closed during feral dog control.

Happy birding!