Sunday 27 July 2014

Killdeer demise.

It seems that our Killdeer family did not make it to fledging; an all too familiar story in the world of waders.

Annette has been several times to look for the family but found none at all, no adults and no chicks, except on one occasion she came across what she determined was a different family when an adult and a fledged juvenile flew in. Here is a photograph of them taken the day after the last photograph was posted of the original chicks. the difference in the young bird means it cannot have been one of the birds Annette had been watching.

Killdeers Charadrius vociferus well advanced and fledged juvenile on the left.
Photo: Annette Cunniffe.

It is a sad tale, and one that is repeated throughout the world with increasing frequency. It is a tough world if you are a wader, there are many natural events that can befall you through your life, survival is by no means guaranteed. If you then factor in all the added pressures that sharing the planet with humanity brings, disturbance, destruction, selfishness, thoughtlessness, carelessness and sometimes downright bloody-mindedness, it is little wonder that the world is losing so many of its waders.

I read a very interesting text by Chris Hassell on the Global Flyway Network website, under the page entitled Why Study Waders? At the beginning of the page he informs us of a survey by the International Wader Study Group (of which we are members) in 2003 that demonstrated that of the 207 shorebird populations with known population trends (which number 511 in total), nearly half, 48% are in decline. Only 16% showed an increase; one assumes that there is no reason to predict that the other populations that we don't know about are likely to be significantly different. Almost half of our known wader populations declining, is that not depressing reading?

What happened to our Killdeers? We will never know for sure but this black-and-white photograph movingly illustrates that all that remains of at least one family of Killdeers this year, is ephemeral footprints in the sand.

Photo: Annette Cunniffe.

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