Ian’s Bird of the Week – Banded Lapwing ~ by Ian Montgomery
Newsletter – 08-05-10
There are two species of Lapwing in Australia. One, the Masked Lapwing, is widespread, common and well-known throughout northern and eastern Australia and Tasmania. It’s familiar because it is at home in populated areas, large, aggressive when nesting, and always noisy when disturbed, even at night, a real larrikin, to use an Australian expression. The other, the Banded Lapwing is the opposite. It’s smaller, quieter, uncommon, not well-known and wary, occurs in drier country away from people, and altogether much more dignified.
It occurs mainly west of the Great Divide and south of the Tropic of the Capricorn, including Tasmania, though there is a small resident population in the dry, cattle-grazing country south of Townsville, north of its usual range. A friend of mine took me there last Sunday so that I could take some photos. Previously, I’d seen them only in Victoria and Western Australia.
Masked Lapwings have large, pendulous, yellow, facial wattles that make them look rather ridiculous, but larrikins don’t worry about appearances. Banded Lapwings have small discreet red wattles, that combine tastefully with the yellow eyes and bills and black, white and tan plumage; presumably the scientific name tricolor refers only to the plumage. The birds – we found about ten – allowed close approach in the car and eventually seemed to get quite used to my presence, though the curious cattle came over too and got in the way a lot.
I concentrated on a group of 5 birds, one of which was a juvenile – the third photo – so the birds had bred recently. Juveniles have small, pale wattles and camouflaged plumage. One pair of adults came quite close to the car and eventually mated. Banded Lapwings are supposedly monogamous and I wondered whether this pair were the parents of the juvenile bird.
Lapwings form a sub-family within the Plover family and there are about 25 species world-wide in every continent except North and Central America. I’ve chose a pair of Yellow-wattled Lapwings – from India as the current Old World pick for comparison. This pair is also mating, so either Lapwings like doing it in public or I like photographing them doing it: the choice is yours.
I recently spent a night at a Bed and Breakfast place in Alligator Creek recently opened by friends of mine, Colin and Helen Holmes. Alligator Creek is about 25km south of Townsville and close to the Mount Elliott section of Bowling Green Bay National Park. Their house is set in several acres of land with plenty of trees and shrubs right on the Creek. It’s a delightful place and very comfortable and you’ll be well looked after and supplied with a lavish breakfast. I can recommend it highly, so if you’re looking for somewhere friendly and peaceful to stay near Townsville check out their website: http://www.alligatorcreekbedandbreakfast.com.au/ .
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: +61-7 4751 3115
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The Banded Lapwing is part of the Charadriidae Family which includes not only Lapwings but also Plovers, Dotterels and a Wrybill. There are 67 species in the family. They are in the Charadriiformes Order which has 19 families.
And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. (Lev 11:19 KJV)
See all of Ian’s Birds of the Week