The Husband now has the perfect excuse not to mow the grass at the far end of our backyard.
Mr & Mrs Masked Plover (or more commonly, Masked Lapwing) have set up house in the longer grass down there. They’re silly birds, and will lay their eggs on playing fields, football pitches, carparks and airport runways, without a thought to the potential danger of predators or environmental hazards. More detail than you’ll ever need to know about them can be found on Wikipedia, here.
We only discovered this fact when the Husband drove the ride-on mower down to the end and was dive-bombed by Mr Plover. Both male and female are notoriously aggressive during the breeding season, not quite as bad as the Australian Magpie, but loud, hostile and prone to attack. The males especially are a bit of a hazard, as they have a ‘spur’ on the major joint on the leading edge of their wings, and these can inflict painful damage.
While they were briefly away from home, I took my life in my hands and scooted out with the camera to capture the nest and eggs, more a slightly bare patch in the grass than any sort of formal structure. Three eggs so far, four is a normal clutch, so there may be another. While I was taking the photo, the pair were yelling and displaying aggressively at me from the next door garden, so I left it at one photo taken from a distance with lots of zoom, and retreated. Mrs Plover immediately flew back in and settled down, and Mr Plover stalked around crossly, squarking at me.
I tremble for their babies, as we have a lot of birds of prey, crows and other flying meat-eaters in this area. Still, we’ll let the grass down there grow till the babies can walk and run and feed themselves. The longer the grass, the better the cover.
It could be a couple of months. The grass is going to be waist high…