Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The disappearing plover egg

I love plovers (also known as the masked lapwing), they are one of my favourite birds. For a start, they look like they are wearing a dinner suit. Secondly, they are a bit aggressive and swoop and squawk in a very amusing fashion when they have eggs or young around. Third, they have the cutest chicks. Unfortunately, they aren't the brightest birds. They like to lay their eggs on completely flat, open ground. It's amazing any eggs survive. When we were WIRES volunteers in Sydney, there was a poor wildlife carer who kept having to go and rescue the same plover babies because the mother would lay her eggs on the top floor of a supermarket car park. The babies are like a piece of fluff on sticks, and they would drift on the breeze down three floors to the ground, where the woman would collect them and deliver them back to the mother... and two days later they would be back on the ground floor again.

There are a lot of plovers in Tasmania. The most we've ever seen is on the football oval in Franklin. Two of them have been hanging out in our paddock and we hoped they were a breeding pair. Then on Friday, David mowed around the house with the super green Grillo. How he managed to spot a speckled green-and-brown plover egg in the grass and not run over it I don't know. He put a couple of stakes on either side so we wouldn't tread on it. For the next couple of days the squawking, swooping parents tried to keep everyone away from it. Then, when David went back to check on the egg, it was gone. No remnants, just gone. Shame. It looks like we won't have a cute fluffy chick around after all. However, we do have a pair of beautiful welcome swallows flitting around and looking for a nesting place.

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