14th of November 2014 – Species Spotlight Masked Plover

Masked Plover 12 1 - 14th of November 2014 - Species Spotlight Masked Plover

A short blog this week as I have had the week off
Whilst I have been away we have seen the arrival of this weeks spotlight subject
Masked Plover
Vanellus miles
Masked Plover 12 150x150 - 14th of November 2014 - Species Spotlight Masked Plover
Also known as the Masked Lapwing and Spur Winged Plover, they are native to Australia & New Zealand.  We keep the Northern sub-species of this bird, which lacks the black collar of the Southern race.  They prefer open areas near to water, which can include grassy areas or the beach.  They are the largest member of their family and their numbers are steady
The sexes appear alike, with the only really difference is the slightly larger spurs on males.  The name is obviously derived from the bare yellow skin on the front of the face.  They are not to be confused with Wattled Plovers, who also have facial wattles
Masked Plover 5 150x150 - 14th of November 2014 - Species Spotlight Masked Plover
The diet is typical of plovers, taking insects, worms, small crustaceans and even occasionally small frogs.  Leaves and seeds are also sometimes eaten.
Nests are usually a scrape in the ground lined with grass.  The female lays 3 to 4 pale brown, spotted eggs and incubation is conducted by both male and female, lasting 28 days.  The chicks are mobile and leave the nest almost immediately.  They are guarded by both adults whilst they feed themselves.  They will fledge at 6-7 weeks and become truly independent at 8 months, breeding the following year
Wednesday saw the arrival of two females from Folly Farm, Wales.  These will join our 2 resident males after serving a weeks quarantine.  The boys are currently in the Desert House
2 of this years Temmincks Tragopan chicks (a male and female) & last years Northern Helmeted Curassow have departed in the opposite direction.
Also departing is the White Bellied Go Away Bird, who has gone on breeding loan to Zlin in the Czech Republic.  I should have some new arrivals in return to report next week.
I’ll catch you up with all the news next week

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