Monday 19 November 2012

Red-wattled Lapwings.

We were interested to see the difference between the Red-wattled Lapwings in Thailand and those in the UAE. They are of different subspecies and the patterning on the head and neck are quite distinct.

This is Vanellus indicus atronuchalis taken in Thailand. Here the white forms a distinct white patch on the neck completely bordered by the black neck and although it is not always visible and certainly not in this photograph there is a thin white collar across the back of the neck between the black head and the brown mantle.


Here is V. i. aigneri taken in Dubai in the UAE; note how the white on the cheeks extends down the sides of the neck to join with the flanks and belly. There is also no white border between the black of the head and the mantle.
These are common birds across much of the their range and will be familiar to birders who have visited Asia and the middle east, but being common does not detract from their grace and beauty.

Adult in Thailand

Their call however is not graceful nor particularly beautiful. As you approach them they begin to call, warning of the first signs of danger and as their anxiety rises they add a syllable to their call.

Adult in Thailand

To us this initial warning call sounded like they were asking; "What ya doin'?" As you draw nearer they begin to ask rather more insistently "What are you doin'?" and then as they take off in panic they scream demanding to know "What ya think ya doin'?, What ya thin ya doin'?" repeatedly until you have passed by and as the perceived threat level subsides the number of syllables drops off until the bird falls silent again.

Adult in the UAE

Of course we don't recommend anyone deliberately approaching these bird to test this out, you will inevitably hear it just going about your normal birding activities.

Juvenile in the UAE moulting into 1st non breeding. It is beginning to get
some black feathering around the face and neck.


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