Sunday 26 May 2013

Species number 99

Don't you just love it when a plan comes together? From our days living in Ubatuba we knew we had a good chance of catching up with Collared Plover on the beach at Ubatumirim at this time of year.

Adult (probably male), Collared Plover.
Having searched the beach from one end to the other we were beginning to think we had been unlucky.

Ubatumirim beach
Then we noticed a dog careering up and down the mud in the river mouth, we looked at it in our bins and saw that it was chasing a small group of plovers numbering 6 in total. Wherever they flew the dog followed, as they tried to settle the dog caught up with them, I guessed they would be Semipalmated Plovers as Collared Plover tend to be singletons and not seen in groups very often.

Dog chasing waders with his little sidekick
However, one bird peeled away and obligingly landed in front of Elis, albeit at some distance. It was a Collared Plover, it seems that when they are in escape-flight mode they join with other species presumably a safety in numbers response. When it landed it was very stressed and bobbed its head almost continuously.

Collared Plover having just landed looking very stressed.
The dog, having tired of chasing the other birds came along the opposite bank of the river outlet and it was quite apparent that the plover was deeply stressed by its presence as it hunkered down into a divot in the sand to hide. Once the dog had gone the bird looked a lot more relaxed and that was when the first photo in this blog was taken.

Cowering Collared Plover
We later came across this different individual which was paler and less well marked, this was a juvenile moulting into adult plumage. The collar is almost complete and there are some black feathers coming through on the crown.

Juvenile - adult moult Collared Plover
Further up the river we found the 4 semipalmated Plovers these two birds had been flying around with.

Four Semipalmated Plovers
There was plenty of evidence of misuse of beaches on this day, cars on the beach, dogs not on leads and illegal collection of invertebrates for fishing bait.

Car on the beach
Dogs not on leads.
Illegal bait collecting
 Another photo of the impressive Southern Lapwing to finish off.

Southern Lapwing



  1. Excellent post. I am glad you talked about the disturbing factors our shorebirds are facing along the beaches. Despite the walking bikini girl looks impressive to me (the right one :) ) it is too bad they don't control their dogs. This is a general issue everywhere. Most probably they don't even know what feathered creatures are living where they are walking every day.

    Best, Szimi

  2. Thanks Szimi, generally people see beaches and mud flats as wastelands designed for recreation or conversion into agricultural land or even industrial sites, they seldom stop to think about the vibrant ecosystem that lurks there mostly hidden from view.