Thursday, July 19, 2007

Spurs Revealed.......Masked Plover

Suffering a recurring chest complaint that has laid me low, I've had to confine most of my birding and photography, to what I can see from and near the car. In reality, the car is a great hide ("blind" to some readers), and often birds will allow a close approach not possible on foot. It also means that you often spend time observing the common species in more detail, as here, the Masked Plover.
For much of the year the 'spurs' are seldom seen (top image), and it wasn't until, many years ago, I found a dead one, that I realised just how big (and sharp) these spurs are. At the moment, with their breeding season imminent, if not already started, there is much aggression shown among 'spurwings'.
I noticed the 2 birds in the lower image, feeding quietly among the weed covered local rocks. They were approached by a group of their own species, which attempted to land close by. Bad choice! The 'resident' pair immediately took flight and engaged the flock in spectacular aerial combat, driving the interlopers off, before returning to feed. The intruders obviously enjoyed the fight, because they shortly reappeared. This time the residents resorted to posturing, including displaying their weaponry, combined with raucous calling. After a few flybys, the intruders had second thoughts, and flew off. Obviously in the mating game, showing the weaponry is everything!!
I must confess that I still call these b
irds "Spurwings", and they're still generally known by that name locally. However the similarly named species of Africa takes preference in the naming stakes, so I'll just have to keep reminding myself that they're now Masked Plover.

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