Red-wattled Lapwing: Egg to Fledgling

Last week, it was very exciting to encounter a Red-wattled Lapwing nest in our garden. Their eggs and nests are very camouflaged, so it took a little bit of careful looking to see it. Nests can be described as a ‘ground scrape’, typically laying 4 eggs which are a light cream colour with dark marking and speckles.

First time finding the eggs on the 19th of March 2022.

It was apparent the nest was present as the mother bird didn’t take flight but walked around the area when perceiving a threat. I assume they are quick to leave the nest as the nest itself is very well hidden and this further helps prevent detection. It goes without saying, my priority was ethical birding and I limited my disturbance as much as possible.

Mother Red-wattled Lapwing. 19th March 2022.

I returned to check the nest on the 23rd of March. The past few weeks have been filled with heavy rain and this was one of those days. Locating the nest again, I observed all 4 eggs still intact. It wasn’t long before the rain started falling heavily, really not wanting to disturb the mother from incubating in the cooler conditions I promptly left.

The nest on the 23rd of March looking very nice. Just before the heavy rain hit.

Two days later I went to check again, this time I planned to quickly check before heading to the Rice Research Center. I may write about that later, it was an eventful visit. Anyway, making it very quick to limit disturbance I went to look for the nest. I had a bit of trouble locating it, funnily enough. The adults were calling loud which added to the stress. Finding the nest, I quickly took the image and left.

Two eggs and a surprise. 25th March 2022.

I was wondering what happened to the other eggs, I didn’t investigate due to the parents being highly alert. It’s very funny since I only saw there was a chick in the picture when I got back home! Their camouflage is great! Now I understand why the adults were being more protective than before.

Today (2 days later), I went back to check-in on the family of Red-wattled Lapwings at the house. Not getting too close, I observed the adults, and quickly saw the chicks around the far-end. I had just gone to check the nest and found a single egg left in the nest. It was lovely to see the three chicks walking around under the protection of their parents.

One egg left, three chicks roaming the garden. 27th March 2022.

I hadn’t researched much about their fledging and parenting behaviour, only stuff like the 30 day incubation time. It was amazing to see how they basically hatch ready-to-go. I did some quick reading and it was interesting to see how they don’t require any feeding for parents, they forage by themselves after hatching! I observed this in today’s visit.

Chick foraging beside their parent. 27th March 2022.

I managed to get within maybe 20 metres of them by slowly approaching and then crouching behind a fallen tree. After initially being alerted – which meant the chicks would be hiding, they gradually relaxed and the chicks came out to forage. I took all the pictures within 20 minutes and left to let them be.

Chick hiding at the back. 27th March 2022.
Chick out in the open. 27th March 2022.
Chick and parent. 27th March 2022.
Chick and parent. 27th March 2022.
Delicate and cute fledgling with parent. 27th March 2022.

It was an amazing time to see them foraging in the garden, their tiny size is a challenge to photograph, but I would suggest to not go close at all and accept worse photographs than to stress the birds out. Luckily 600mm focal length on a crop sensor (equaling 900mm) gives plenty of reach so I could hang back.

One of the three chicks that were roaming the garden, foraging for food. Only having hatched in the last 1-2 days. 27th March 2022.

It was my first time to see the chicks of Red-wattled Lapwing in person and it was amazing! Red-wattled Lapwings can be very loud birds, practically anytime you find them, but I still love and appreciate them. Having been satisfied with my documentation, I left. But it wasn’t over just yet. Upon, leaving I saw another Red-wattled Lapwing nesting in the harvested rice paddy!

Incubating in the brutal heat of the day. 27th March 2022.

It was another lovely sight to see on the way out. I hope their eggs hatch and they can fledge successfully. Sometimes they burn the stubble of the rice field and I’m a bit worried about the potential human intervention which could be catastrophic.

I am not sure when I’ll be back to check on the Red-wattled Lapwings but there may be an update post later on. The fourth egg was yet to hatch. I’ve been uploading all my photos to iNaturalist, you can find more of the photos I took today over there.

All images © 2022 hamsambly

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