COMMENT

Attack of the feral plovers: when tranquillity is a dirty word

Plovers: Part 1

One of the great joys of spring has to be seeing nesting birds proudly introducing their chicks to the outside world.

With all the activity of building the nest, then the female sitting on the eggs, you can't help but get that sense of excitement waiting for the chicks to arrive.

Over the years we've had baby magpies, babblers, wagtails, honeyeaters, swallows, peewees, loads of parrots ... it's something we look forward to at our place in Nulkaba every year.

But right now I'm being tested. The culprit is Vanellus miles who,to my mind, has an attitude problem.

You'll know her better as a plover - aka, Spur-winged Plover or Masked Lapwing.

It's hard to imagine a bird on Mother Earth that can pick more unsuitable places to nest than plovers.

The middle of a sports field, on a roundabout, in a car park ... you name it, it's all the same to them. This'll do just fine, home sweet home.

So I probably shouldn't have been surprised to see a female sitting on two speckled green eggs on my driveway this week. Right where the car goes into the garage.

Can there be a more uninviting place than a blue metal driveway ... seriously? It speaks volumes for my skills with the lawn. It's not only inconvenient, it's a feathered insult to boot.

What to do?

We decided to carefully get the wife's car out - she nervously guided me around the eggs as I reversed out of the garage - and park it outside in the yard. That way we'd not disturb the mum-to-be each time we come and go.

The plover couldn't see the value of that and let us know, running at us with its wings flared.

Since then any pretence at civility has gone. She attacks any time she likes, and the male, who until this point seemed fairly laid back by plover standards, is now baying for blood too. She who must be obeyed has spoken.

Our little world has been rocked. Normally mundane things like checking the letterbox, mowing the lawn, taking out the bins, going to the garage or to the front gate are suddenly more akin to crossing the road in Hanoi: there's risk involved.

Plovers: Part 2

And I'm working from home so it's not like I can do what blokes normally do - head off to work and leave it to the wife to get it sorted "as much as I'd like to be here to help". Oh for the good old days.

But it's not just the wife and I, our happy-go-lucky dog is suddenly being divebombed too, and well on the way to becoming a drooling mess. What's a dog therapist cost these days?

Yet despite all this the wife wants to make sure the plovers chicks arrive safe and sound and, with that in mind, has put orange witches hats either side of the nest so that anyone coming up the driveway won't run over them.

It may be practical, but it seems like we're paying homage to an interloper. The Brits cooking dinner for the Roman invaders, sort of thing. The Night's Watch building a statue for the wildlings.

So, how long does this continue?

Google tells us plovers sit on their eggs for about 28 days. And this is week one.

I'm feeling sick, pass the hydroxychloroquine.

(Apology for the quality of the images, we were under pressure).

This story Mum-to-be rocks our world: attack of the plovers first appeared on The Maitland Mercury.

Comments