Sydney Trip Report June 2011
As I wrote yesterday, we stopped at Lameroo on the first morning of our trip to Sydney earlier this year. Lake Roberts on the eastern edge of town is a good birding spot with a mixture of bush birds and water birds inhabiting this artificial wetland area. On most of my visits I have seen at least two Masked Lapwings. They feed on the grassed area around the lake and picnic area. Behind me where I took these photos is the small caravan park which is also a grassed area. Last year we saw several chicks in the caravan park, running after the adults.
We stayed at this spot for about 20 minutes while we had a cuppa and morning tea. The following is a list of birds observed during that time:
- Black-shouldered Kite
- Brown Falcon
- Nankeen Kestrel
- Little Pied Cormorant
- Muscovy Duck (introduced species)
- Masked Lapwing
- Rock Dove (introduced species)
- Crested Pigeon
- Variegated Fairy-wren
- Red Wattlebird
- Magpie Lark
- Australian Magpie (both Black-backed and White-backed)
- Little Raven
- White-winged Chough
- Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Some of these were seen in the town or on the road leading into town and not at the lake.
This is one article I should have written ages ago. I’ve been busy.
Quite a few weeks ago now there was a special item on the television news here in South Australia showing a pair of Masked Lapwings nesting on the median strip of one of Adelaide’s busiest thoroughfares.
This pair had made their nest on a triangular piece of lawn at the intersection of North Terrace (6 lanes), West Terrace (8 lanes) and Port Road (6 lanes), arguably one of the busiest parts of the Adelaide CBD. This median strip would have to be no more than half a tennis court in size and would have tens of thousands of cars, trucks buses and bikes going past only a few metres away every day of the week.
It was in exactly the same spot about ten years ago that saw a pair of Lapwings escorting two little balls of fluff with legs. I hope they are able to run the gauntlet of all that traffic and survive. It can be relatively quiet around 3am I suppose – if you run during changes in the lights.
This evening as we arrived home from a meeting we heard two Masked Lapwings flying over head. It was a still, bright moonlit evening and their calls carried far. At one point one of the birds flew directly above me but I was unable to see it, despite the bright moon light.
Masked Lapwings are a common species around our home town of Murray Bridge. They are often seen near water or lawned areas, such as ovals and parks. From time to time we hear them nearby, or flying over head. Sometimes we even get to see them, but I have never actually seen them on the ground on our two hectare (5 acre) property. The nearest oval is some 500 metres away so they must have been disturbed from there, and then flew over our house.
For more information about Masked Lapwings, including a photo, click here.
Many people don’t like lapwings (plovers), especially the Masked Lapwing shown in today’s photos. The reasons are various, including the fact that they make their nests on the ground, usually a lawned area like that shown in today’s photos. The Australian Botanic Gardens at Mt Annan have large areas of lawn or grassy areas, suitable for picnics and large gathering such as concerts. The local community had celebrated their Christmas Carol singing for 2013 the night before we were there. While it is ideal habitat for the Lapwings, their preference brings a conflict with humans. Most people are reluctant to mow the grass or lawn while the birds are sitting on eggs.
Breeding season for the Masked Lapwing brings about another point of conflict with human occupation of the same space. Lapwings aggressively defend their nest and territory, swooping any person, dog, cat or cyclist who dares invade their domain. A screeching, swooping lapwing – it’s more of a attack fighter plane dive – is a terrifying experience for some and an unnerving encounter at best. Young children are particularly at risk. The spurs on the “elbow” of the wing can cause injury if the swooping bird contacts the intended victim. I might add that contact is rare, and injuries usually minor. Psychological damage can be the most severe outcome; some people are definitely traumatised by a close encounter.
Masked Lapwings are birds that are easily recognisable to many Australians. They are found throughout the eastern half of the continent and the northern parts too, where suitable habitat exists. They are common in parks, ovals, grassed areas, swamplands, and the edges of watercourses, dams and lakes. They are notorious for their habit of fiercely and noisily defending their territory by swooping anyone who dares to come near to their nest on the ground or the young.
While they are known to also inhabit beach areas, I haven’t often seen this species right on the beach like the one shown in the photo above. Mind you – this one is actually walking on the piled up seaweed along Encounter Bay at Victor Harbor.