Friday, 6 March 2015

Red-capped Plover chick

On the Gippsland Lakes late in February, heading south in the channel between Fraser and Rigby Islands, we noticed a lone very young shorebird (wader) chick on the shoreline of Fraser Island. We did not have to ponder which species it was for long, a female Red-capped Plover soon joined the young bird.
Red-capped Plover, mother and chick, Fraser Island, Gippsland Lakes.

Male Red-capped Plover, not the chick's parent, photo taken elsewhere on a clear blue sky day, included to show a male which has a red head or cap.
 Even though the chick was not long hatched, in fact still a camouflaged ball of fluff, it was highly mobile on long legs, darting forward and stopping abruptly as it searched for food along the shoreline. We only saw the female parent, though both parents usually tend the young, which can vary in number from one to three. 
The presence of our boat just off shore aroused the protective instinct in the mother bird; she followed the chick closely, and it seemed to be oblivious to us, as it darted here and there along the shore looking for food. I think the chicks find their own food, they are not fed by the parents (?). 
Capturing images of the small stop/start bird was tricky in the overcast conditions with dull and flat light, an extreme test for the auto-focus system.

The start of a tiny wing is just visible.

The chick has found a small food item by the water's edge.
Mother continues to keep a close eye on the chick and us. The chick continues to forage, it has to grow up fast.

The young bird was very cute and very vulnerable. With no wings or feathers developed yet to fly, the young bird must rely on its long legs, camouflage and its mother for protection from predators.

No comments:

Post a Comment