Tuesday, 4 June 2013

In search of Lapwing Chicks on a rare almost Summers Evening

I had a couple of hours free last night and so nipped down to one of my local sites in search of Lapwing chicks. I have been visiting this site for about five years now and usually manage to catch two or three chicks, but this year I was a bit later and feared that they may already be too big. Arriving at the site it was evident that it had not been grazed for a while, and large parts had become dominated with a dense growth of rush. However, not to be deterred I worked my way to a suitable vantage point and began to scan.

Success was almost immediate as a good sized chick sat preening in an area of shorter vegetation. The chicks seem to prefer the shorter areas, which is odd since this site has large numbers of corvids present, and to be so obvious would presumably leave them susceptible to predation. 

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus chick

This chick was very on-the-ball though and the second the adult uttered an alarm call it settled down into the nearby vegetation and waited for the all clear. Luckily I had a good fix!

Lapwing Chick Camouflaged in the Grass

It was a good sized chick and when settled in the grass was very well camouflaged and weighed a very healthy 70.2 grams. For comparison adult birds weigh between 192 and 310 grams, according to BTO data.  When being weighed this bird seemed to be quite unperturbed and was content to watch what I was doing from the ringing pot!

Lapwing Chick enjoying the view from the Ringing Pot
(with free advertising for Swarovski)

There appeared to be three pairs present at the site and given that the average clutch size for this species is four, there had to be more chicks around. The problem was that once the adults alarm call the chick tend to site still for quite a while, so I wasn't hopeful of finding more. I moved location and began to scan from the other end of the field and immediately picked up a second bird. This bird was much smaller and probably still a little naive, but fortunately its legs were large enough to take a ring.

Tiny Lapwing Chick .... Just big enough to ring

This bird weighed only 19.3 grams, so considerably smaller, and clearly from a different clutch to the first bird, and I still suspect there will be more to find.

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