Li’l Lapwings.

One dark night, after a few days of continual rain, I arrived home and could make out a Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles) standing in the middle of the street. As I moved closer I saw there were two, surrounded by dark, rapidly moving… things. I realized there were five chicks with them. The parents were giving their alarm calls as I approached, and they led the chicks off the road and onto the muddy, churned up grass verge in front of a building site. Though common enough birds, this was unusual.
I could do nothing in the dark, other than hope the family was OK. Throughout the night, they continued to give their noisy, harsh contact and alarm calls – which The Australian Bird Guide wryly describes as “not always delighting insomniacs”. I was keeping myself awake with thoughts that perhaps one of their chicks had fallen into a drain!

Early next morning, Mum was still on the verge in front of the construction site, in the rain.

Perhaps they lived on the local Golf Course – 150m away – and the incessant rain had flooded their usual home? Lapwings like to gather and live near the margin of water, but seldom wade and prefer to feed on dry land.
Again, I counted five chicks. Lapwings generally lay 3 to 4 eggs, so I took that as hopefully indicating they were not hanging around in distress over a lost chick. I checked the two nearest drains and could not see a chick.
Dad was nowhere to be seen, but the chicks wandered around amongst the mud and wet grass happily enough.

The tiny chicks were almost too small to focus on in the grey, overcast light. But as with all chicks everywhere, the cuteness was overpowering:

As the rain came down again, the chicks took shelter beneath their Mum’s wings. (These shots clearly show the black-tipped, yellow wing spurs that the adult lapwings have).

After the shower passed, I was able to get in closer for some more cuteness…

Then with strident, grating, aggressive alarm calls, Dad came charging back down the street…

Later in the day, they had left the area as mysteriously as they had appeared. But it was wonderful to finally see the chicks of this familiar bird.

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