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.
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.
I’ve just come inside after hanging out a load of washing. While this necessary task interrupts my writing, I do welcome and enjoy it. Firstly, it stretches my legs and gets me out of my chair and away from the computer for a few minutes. Then I enjoy the breath of fresh air. Finally, it allows me to be outdoors with my head up – always a good pose for birding.
This morning’s delight was two (a pair?) of Masked Lapwings (plovers) flying noisily just over my head. This is a very common species in this area, but strangely, we don’t often get them landing on our 5 acre block of land. They also don’t often seem to fly directly overhead either. We usually only hear them in the distance.
Last week on a visit to the nearby Monarto Zoo I photographed a Masked Lapwing sitting on a nest. In another enclosure we saw a pair escorting three young chicks. I hope they didn’t venture into the nearby cheetah enclosure!
- Masked Lapwings -articles about lapwings from my archives.
Last year we went on a four week holiday through New South Wales and Victoria. I’ve written about that holiday on a number of previous occasions.
When we left Mildura in north west Victoria we didn’t follow the main highway home. Instead, we drove through parts of the extensive Murray-Sunset National Park. This park is mainly mallee scrub, with some open saltbush plains in places. As we were driving along the dirt track I managed to add a number of species to my trip list. One of these was the elusive Banded Lapwing, shown in the photo above.
Banded Lapwings have been something of a bogey bird for me, and I’ve only recorded it on a handful of occasions. Mind you, this is not really all that surprising, for while it is widespread in southern Australia, it is not common anywhere in its range. It is absent in the far tropical north of the continent.
Banded Lapwing’s preferred habitat is open, stony or ploughed ground or ground with short grass. The photo above shows the vegetation where I saw the Lapwings and this would be typical of its usual habitat. It is often encountered in small groups; only once have I seen a group of about fifty birds. It usually breeds in the months of June through to October, or after rain, and lays 3 – 4Ã‚Â eggs in a scrape on the ground sometimes with a little grass lining.
It is somewhat smaller than its more common and more aggressive cousin, the Masked Lapwing.
- Pizzey, G and Knight F: The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia
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.