Tuesday, 2 January 2018

No barging in

An hour before high tide. One or two of the concrete barges were just starting to go under, but the roost was intact. 123 Ringed Plovers today.

Nice little mix with them; Oystercatchers, Grey Plovers, Dunlins, Redshanks, Turnstones, even some Black-tailed Godwits.

Half-hour to the top of the tide. They're gonna make it. Of course, that was just before the boat decided to take a short cut instead of staying nearer the reach.

Up and away. Quite a few waders did circuit, return and resettle, but the Ringos were having none of it, taking the two kilometre trip to Nor. Actually, eleven did come back. Which is a similar number to the usual low tide count close to the barges. Nice to think these birds are the locals. Territorial Ringos seem to do this a lot. A couple of hours before I'd watched the Sharps Green Plover posse gather on their favourite wreck. Only birds to hold their ground when an off-the-lead mad hound chased a late-feeding Redshank off into the saltings.

Makes sense if they want to get back on 'their' spots quick and defend from transients. The bulk might be coming from mid-estuary, so they can push off back there as soon as the tide drops enough. Interestingly, the eleven were all adults. Something to check on again.

The texts tell you that Ringed Plovers are not specialized feeders, but vary their diet in accordance with the prey species common in a particular area. In autumn and spring, but not in winter, food requirements can be met during daylight. Even feeding all day long in mid-winter, they have to feed at night. Lighter nights allow easier feeding (they can 'see' better) but cloud cover causes problems. Strong winds over the flats disturb prey as well. They try to keep their weights high to compensate, but Plovers lose peak condition much quicker than those waders that feel by touch. Not having undisturbed roosts here on the Medway adds to these problems. 

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