Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Bird in the Bog

I rarely get close enough to Black-fronted Plovers to photograph them, but this morning I finally did, just! I dropped in to (not literally) the Lewisham "duck pond", which has a pretty low water level at the moment and fewer waterfowl than usual, and noted 2 Blackfronts feeding at the Northern (shallow) end. That at least meant that with luck I might be able to photograph them from the car. I waited sometime as they gradually moved toward me, feeding in the liquified mud, as they did so. While watching them closely, I realised they were using the 'foot trembling' technique. This is the first time that I can recall observing this method of feeding by Blackfronts, but I can't remember seeing them feeding in liquified mud before either! The technique consists of the bird putting one foot forward in mud/water and moving the foot rapidly from side to side--trembling--which presumably disturbs the prey, followed by a quick dart forward to seize it. It's a method that Silver Gulls often employ. Black-fronted Plovers appear to have increased in numbers over the past 30 years, probably as a result of many more farm dams being built. This venue at Lewisham generally holds a few birds.


Anonymous said...

What an interesting observation of bahaviour. I can only recall seeing them pick over mudflats, but then, I haven't seen them feeding in 'liquified mud' either.

BirdingTas said...

I'm not sure that I've ever spent much time watching them feed, and they're normally in much drier spots. Even at the distance I was watching them and through bins, it took me some time to realise what they were doing. The fact that they have black, mud coated legs and in black mud, didn't help either!