Friday, 7 March 2014

African Wattled Lapwing

What we refer to as African Wattled Lapwing is sometimes called Senegal Wattled Lapwing or by others simply Wattled Lapwing and it is subdivided into three races. The nominate race Vanellus senegallus senegallus occurs from Senegal and The Gambia on the Atlantic coast of west Africa, east to Sudan, Zaire and northern Uganda. The second,  V. s. major occurs just in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

There are no differences in plumage between senegallus and major but the latter averages a little larger.
African Wattled Lapwing Vanellus senegallus senegallus; Kotu Creek, Western Division, The Gambia. January 2014.
The third race V. s. lateralis occurs from Congo and Angola east to southern Uganda and south to north-eastern South Africa. This race has an all black bill tip and a black line running from flank to flank across the belly in front of the legs.
African Wattled Lapwing V. S. lateralis; River Chobe, Kisana, Botswana. August 2013.
Note: compare the bill tip and the black flanks and belly of this bird with the photo above.
This seems to be a common bird and is probably not in any danger due to its high tolerance of human activity. It is a bird that can be found in almost any open habitat in its range, it is most often encountered near water but can be found in drier places too feeding mainly on insects.
African Wattled Lapwing V. s. senegallus; many species of wader, if not all, can occasionally be seen sitting in this way. with the ankle on the ground. It looks most ungainly and peculiar; very different from their normal elegance.
This is one of the few species thought to have a stable population so is of Least Concern with regard to its conservation status, although I was shocked to read that it is still hunted for traditional medicine in Nigeria! In South Africa it is losing habitat due to commercial afforestation. 

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