Saturday, 4 April 2015

Double-banded Plover surprise

I have been following the avian population at a local ephemeral wetland. There is a previous post here. I went last Monday and it was pretty much as I expected. The water in the middle was just a puddle, presumably hyper-saline. There were no birds visible at all apart from 10 or so Masked Lapwing doing their usual "kerr-kick-ki-ki-ki" at apparently something [but not discernible to me] but also involving flying to other parts of the dried mudflats.

Just a small amount of moisture to the right of middle of the image
I had a squizz through the bins looking for the Red-necked Stints and Red-capped Plovers which I was sure were there although, if not flying, not visible to the naked eye from the roadside fence. Hard to spot until they move. Their feather colours camouflage them beautifully to the white and browns of the mudflats. I saw there were about 150 or so resting, sleeping and feeding but there were some, forty or so, that were a tad bigger and browner than the RCPs and RNSs which are about the same size. Not big enough for Sharpies, which I haven't seen for a few weeks now, so what/who were they.

Sort this lot out. There are about 35 birds in this field of view.
Clambering over the two fences and across the rip lines [for planting this coming winter], I struggled with the scope, the bins, the camera and a coffee. Once at the "shoreline" I was able to see them clearly and was delighted to ident them as Double-banded Plovers -- a life tick!!

They spend the summer in NZ, breeding there, resplendent in their breeding plumage with the double bands. The higher one is a sharp black band across the throat and the lower one is a broad chestnut band across the breast. The non breeding plumage is traces [a tab Morcombe] of either band at the sides as seen in the image. They behaved as per RCPs with the abrupt stop-start, run-pause movements.

Double-banded Plover -- another in background.
Good example of the band tabs.
DBP x 3
RCP in the background to the right.
Magic. f8 and be there!

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