From time to time I see some amazing, interesting or even bizarre things where birds are concerned. At first glance, today’s photos could fall into that category. Masked Lapwings (plovers) are usually found on grassy areas – lawns, ovals and roadside verges. What is this one doing on the roof of the Australian Reptile Park (near Sydney)?
Oddly enough, this is quite common behaviour with this species. In fact, they often prefer to nest up on the roof of a house, shed, office or factory in some situations. How the little hatchlings survive the drop onto the ground amazes me; they must be quite tough little balls of fluff. Perhaps all that downy fluff helps them to bounce like a tennis ball.
When you think about it, nesting on a roof is a better survival strategy than nesting on the ground like they usually do. Not only does this help minimise the threat from cats and dogs, it generally does away with interfering people and their mowers.
In this case however, it is the one safe place to nest away from the hundreds of visitors to the park every day – that’s a lot of shoes tramping around on every available bit of grass. Eggs don’t take kindly to stomping feet.
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.