Wednesday, 8 June 2011

How are little Lapwings made mummy?

I had an early appointment in Deal, trying to sort my shoulder out, and afterwards I decided to go to SBBO to see how their mothing was going. On the way I stopped of at the Restharrow Scrape and had an enjoyable hour watching the "goings on".

The number of House Martins coming in to get their building mud had increased dramatically form last week.
Once on the small island in front of the hide they were vigorously digging out beakfuls of the mud.

Although it is not unusual to here the local Corn Bunting from the hide today it was closer than usual, singing from just behind the reeds next to the hide. I could also hear a Reed Bunting, but it stayed out of sight. I did wonder if there was any intra-specific rivalry between the two close relatives.

once loaded with the necessary load the House Martins were off towards the estate to continue their building.

A rather splendid Dabchick came past the hide still looking immaculate despite the rigours of raising a family.

It was hotly pursued by what must be one of the most attractive of all the young birds around.

Once it caught up with the adult it was actively soliciting food, sometimes pecking at the back of it's parent before it dived. This time it was luck and there was a small fish as reward for it's begging.
I'm not sure that it really know what to do with this present, it seemed to hold on to it for a long time, I presume that it swallowed it, but I didn't see it happen.

Straight in front of the hide a Lapwing was sitting again, I didn't think that they will have a second brood and according to BWP they are single brooded, but will have replacement clutches if they loose their eggs.

It may be that this is a completely new pair. After a while she started to make the strange guttural, rasping call, that I associate with pair activity. She left the scrape and started to tidy up round it, throwing bit out of the way and generally being busy.

Then she stopped for a quick tidy up of herself, and it was obvious that she was expecting a visitor.
I wasn't' many seconds before he arrived, noisily making the same rasping call that she had been uttering before.

He didn't hang around for any ceremony, or introductions. He went straight into action and she seemed quite happy to accommodate him.

As is usual in birds, the actual mating doesn't take very long. A case of wham, bam thank you mam.
And then without a moments hesitation he off. The jobs done and it's time to go, until the next time that is.

He went of for a stroll along the waters edge, stopping of a bit of preening and in a free moment he found time to chase a Redshank away. I've never really worked it out, Lapwing can be very aggressive to other birds, earlier this year I saw one chasing a Little Ringed Plover away, but at other times they seem to take no notice of birds that would seem to offer much greater threat, like Coots or Moorhens.

She returned to the nest scrape area (if that is what it really is) and recommenced here tidying up.
He then joined her, and for a while they did some housework together. A strange ritual with bits just being thrown about for no apparent reason or pattern.

All the time this was going on a loud piping from the right hand side let everyone know that Mr and Mrs Oystercatcher were out walking with the kids.

The Dabchick was joined by two more youngsters. At one time I thought I saw a fourth, but it may have been another adult that then sneaked back into the reeds.

There are a number of Shelducks on the scrape at the moment and although at times the seem to freely associate together at others there are big rumpuses when one gets too close. It may be one male keeping another away from his female but normally it is such a confused blur of wings it is difficult to see who's who.

On the estate it was good to see the progress that the House Martins were making and that the local residents were doing the best to help the House Martins by providing nest boxes for them. There has been a steep decline in House Martin numbers in the last 30 years and anything that can help must be applauded. It may be that the climatic conditions in Africa, combined with the reduction of available insects in our atmosphere is the main cause of this population crash.

It was good to see some striking spikes of Lizard Orchids on a couple of the lawns. I am truly envious of the people at Sandwich Bay that have these gems sprouting up in their gardens.

We did have one at St Margaret's, in the grass near the monument. It was protected from grazing rabbits by a cage. Perhaps this drew attention to it too much, and after several years of flowering the plant disappeared over this winter, apparently dug up by some vandal.

1 comment:

Derek Faulkner said...

An excellent posting Tony, I really enjoyed that one.