Tuesday 8 July 2014

Killdeer family.

Annette Cunniffe lives in Connecticut in the USA. On the 1st of July she received a phone call from the caretaker of an enclosed vegetable garden to say that the eggs had hatched in the Killdeer nest he was monitoring for her. Annette had been waiting for this news so wasted no time in getting down to the garden to see the chicks of which there were four. This pair had nested in the same spot before, many times, but on one occasion the eggs had been stepped on inadvertently, since that date the caretaker watches to see where the nest is and then marks it with an orange stick this way everyone can keep a safe distance from the nest.

Adult Killdeer protecting its four young. It's belly feathers look as though they are wet so it may be using this technique to keep the chicks cool whilst also giving them some shade. The orange stick that warns passers by of the nest can be seen to the right. Photo: Annette Cunniffe.

The next day she went back to check on them but could only find two chicks. She searched widely but to no avail. It was a tense time.

The two chicks seen by Annette on the second visit. Photo: Annette Cunniffe.

On the 3rd of July Annette returned and this time found the adults on the beach and with them three chicks. She wasn't sure , but did think there may be all four, it was hard to tell as they ran around such a lot and each would disappear periodically, but she definitely saw three together at one stage. Fingers crossed for the last one. The parents were doing their usual distraction display feigning injury to draw a predator, in this case a photographer, away from the chicks.

Classic distraction display. Photo: Annette Cunniffe.

The good news is that on the 7th of July Annette went back once again to check on the family, which was now at the far end of the beach, where it is much quieter, and found the parents tending to all four chicks.

Spot the Killdeer chick! Photo: Annette Cunniffe.

So far so good, Annette has promised to keep us updated and will take photos as and when she can but there will be no close-ups as she is trying to keep her distance from the birds for obvious reasons; we hope to follow this story as it unfolds.

Here's two of the four chicks Annette saw today. Photo: Annette Cunniffe.

The Killdeers are not the only wader to be found on the beach though. As Annette arrived at the beach she saw this and another Spotted Sandpiper and she also saw a pair of American Oystercatchers, but was unable to get a shot of them as they kept their distance.

Spotted Sandpiper; a really dapper wader. Photo: Annette Cunniffe.

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