I’ve always know this species as the Spurwinged Plover, but my field guide to birds tells me that they have been renamed as the Masked Lapwing. The name ‘Spurwing’ refers to the bony ‘spurs’ which the birds have on their shoulder, and which they can use for defence.
Appearing approximately eight months ago, the Plovers have become part of the landscape here. Initially a pair, and after the breeding season, four chicks appeared. They don’t actually nest on our property – at least I don’t think they do – but they are here from dawn to dusk. Before the chicks could fly, the family walked to our dam from the property next door. We always knew when they were about to arrive through the extremely loud distraction calls made by one of the adults who walked separately to the group and diverted attention away from the chicks.
The family always have one of the adults on sentry duty, regardless of what they are doing, and at the slightest sign of something unusual the alarm calls ring out across the district. Nothing subtle about these birds! They’re quite territorial too, and one of the few species who willing take on the Magpies. On the preferred patch of grass outside the house we now have either Magpies or Plovers – rarely both together. Increasingly, the Plovers seem to win. Plovers also love the water though, so when they move down to the dam, the Magpies come back to the grass near the house.
It has taken me a while to compile a group of photographs which show the behaviour of the Plovers simply because it is difficult to get close enough – they are so alert. However, I now have a few to choose from. You will find more information about the Plovers in the captions beneath the photographs.