August 13th   Leave a comment

Today’s field pool wader was a grey plover. An absolutely perfect summer plumage bird feeding in the flooded brassica field at Old Barns. It was there all day and you only had to watch it for a few minutes to work out why. Every thirty seconds the plover pulled up an earthworm. This great feeding rate – perfect for refuelling for a bird that might have been in Siberia a couple of days ago – didn’t go unnoticed by the black-headed gulls also feeding in the field. The plover had to keep moving because the gulls would try to grab any worm it got. A long, dangling muddy earthworm is not a quick mouthful and about once in four attempts the plover would lose the worm as a gull made its snatch and grab robbery. Black-headed gulls often feed in fields with golden plovers and the same thieving behaviour occurs. I expect to a black-headed gull, any plover with a worm is a target, they just don’t get to hang out with grey plovers very much. Grey plovers are much more shore specialists when not breeding and are a rare sight inland in an arable field (athough when they do this, usually on migration like today, they can be confusing – a juvenile grey plover can look just like one of the rarer American or Pacific golden plover species). No confusion possibility today with this nice nesting plumage bird – all blacks and whites below, with a brilliant back pattern of rocky lichen tones above that spangled against the brown muddy field, but that would be a stealth suit on an Arctic pebble plain.

The grey plover at Old Barns today (JA)
A black-headed gull having a go at worm stealing (JA)
And again (JA)

Posted August 13, 2019 by wildcrail in Sightings

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