A Poor Year

Friends of Priorslee Lake are delighted to report that this charismatic species again attempted to breed in the area for the seventh year in succession. However there were no confirmed records of juveniles this year.

Little Ringed Plover is a bird protected under Schedule 1 – Part I of The Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 which means it is an offence “to intentionally or recklessly disturb birds and their young at, on or near an ‘active’ nest.”

For this reason and because the site is on private land the precise location is not disclosed in this narrative. Neither has it been possible to monitor them on a daily basis. There are several publicly accessible locations that afford rather distant views over part of the territory used by the birds and a number of us have discretely used these. Little Ringed Plovers are indeed ‘little’ – very little bigger than a House Sparrow.

Birds have been present on this site during their breeding season for at least the past seven years. They have successfully bred on a number of occasions. As a ground nesting species the eggs and young are susceptible to predation by crows, magpies and foxes despite being cryptically marked. The adults can be very noisy especially when displaying.

Their last successful year was 2015 when at least three fledged juveniles were noted

In 2016 birds were first noted displaying on 31 March and last seen on 17 July. As many as five adults were seen together

As in previous years only one pair was, with difficulty, observable on a regular basis. That pair was seen mating on several occasions. At least two broods were attempted: the rather late ‘last date’ suggests that more broods could have been attempted. However no juveniles were seen. Conditions were very difficult for the birds this year with their chosen site sometimes flooded; and at other times baked bone dry. It is equally likely that the nests were predated.
When possible a few record photographs were taken. Some of these are included below.

21 One Little Ringed Plover in reflective mood.

18 Two of the four Little Ringed Plovers with presumed display.

10 And after a disagreement?

8 Two together in harmony.

6 The pair mating on the rather late date of 16 June.

(Ed Wilson)

This years Notes and Images

15 Aug 16

I had a look at the Little Ringed Plover area today. As expected there was no sign on any birds. The whole area has now dried right out and possibly is unsuitable even if they were still around.

(Ed Wilson)

22 Jul 16

4 juvenile Pied Wagtails dancing around the Little Ringed Plover area caused momentary alarm.

(Ed Wilson)

21 Jul 16

Another good search failed to find any Little Ringed Plovers this morning. There were at least 4 Wood Pigeons flying in and around the area and I would have expected the Little Ringed Plover to have broken cover at some stage.

(Ed Wilson)

18 Jul 16

A good search failed to find any Little Ringed Plovers this morning.

(Ed Wilson)

16 Jul 16

The Little Ringed Plover seen again this morning: still wandering about a relatively small area. Stayed >15 minutes and it never looked like returning to swap brooding duties or feed a mate. A trio for the gallery.

1 Little Ringed Plover

2 Little Ringed Plover

3 Little Ringed Plover

(Ed Wilson)

14 Jul 16

Again it was some while before any Little Ringed Plover was visible. Once more it wandered around on its own rather aimlessly if somewhat further from its favoured rock than before. It does look rather dishevelled and I initially wondered whether it might be a grown juvenile until I saw it better.

4 Centre of image a rather dishevelled looking Little Ringed Plover

5 Here you can see the black line on the forehead that confirms it as an adult

(Ed Wilson)

11 Jul 16

Spent some 5 minutes at the lookout for the Little Ringed Plovers without seeing anything and thinking again that all the rain had flooded them out. Then at the ‘one last scan’ a single bird walked out from behind a rock. Watched for another 5 minutes while this bird wandered around, never getting far away from the rock, sometimes belly-deep in water, but never returning behind the rock. Not sure what to make of this behaviour. But good to know they are still there.

(Ed Wilson)

4 Jul 16

As I walked down Teece Drive alongside the academy I could hear Little Ringed Plovers calling and scanning with bins toward the pan I saw three birds approaching from the E / NE. With birds that size it was hard to know exactly how far away they were and it did cross my mind as to whether they were coming from across Castle Farm Way and were perhaps nesting in the fields there. Certainly when I went to the usual overlook where I have recorded all the sightings so far this year I could find no birds. If any were sitting then I could easily miss them but with three birds around it seems unlikely that all would be sat down. So ...

(Ed Wilson)

At 06:15 1 Little Ringed Plover on Celestica Site

(John Isherwood)

30 Jun 16

No sign of the Little Ringed Plovers today and looks likely that they would have been flooded out with almost all the concrete pan under water.

(Ed Wilson)

28 Jun 16

An evening visit to check Little Ringed Plovers of which there was no sign.

(Martin Grant)

18 Jun 16

A male Little Ringed Plover heard in display flight around the site.

(Ed Wilson)

17 Jun 16

As I was walking down Teece Drive I could see a small wader, I assume an Little Ringed Plover, flying around over the pan area

(Ed Wilson)

16 Jun 16

Little Ringed Plovers seen mating this morning after I heard the male calling: good news

6 The pair of Little Ringed Plovers mating (Ed Wilson)

(Ed Wilson)

15 Jun 16

Perhaps all is not lost: looked out on the flooded concrete pan this morning and noted a single Little Ringed Plover standing around. Not doing much, but at least it is there.

7 A lone Little Ringed Plover or is there another! (Ed Wilson)

(Ed Wilson)

11 Jun 16

Since my posting on Tuesday (7th) and Martin Grant’s riposte that he had seen none that evening I too have seen none.

I went out on the concrete pan today and walked all around and must conclude that what I saw Tuesday morning was some sort of farewell flight and that the birds have indeed gone and failed to breed this year

I suspect an early brood was predated as they were seen mating on 27 May and there was plenty of display flying again after that date

Possibly as the pan had dried out and there was no longer any water it became unsuitable. Pity they couldn’t have stayed a few more days: it is certainly wet now

(Ed Wilson)

10 Jun 16

I could still find no Little Ringed Plovers again this morning. My latest theory is that because we have had no rain for weeks the pan is now completely dry and therefore unsuitable for nesting [that should now be remedied after a deluge this evening]

(Ed Wilson)

9 Jun 16

I could find no Little Ringed Plovers again this morning. There were calls I did not immediately recognise coming from the right direction but could see nothing and they were likely tits in the bushes behind.

(Ed Wilson)

8 Jun 16

Rather in line with Martin Grant’s note that he saw none of the Little Ringed Plovers yesterday evening I could find none this morning either.

(Ed Wilson)

7 Jun 16

I had an evening visit 7:00pm to 8:00pm and there was no sign at all of any Little Ringed Plovers on the Rubble Pad.

(Martin Grant)

There was a lot of noise at the Little Ringed Plovers this morning. When I took a look at what was going on, there were 3 birds flying around calling and 2 more running around on the ground. I think one of the flying birds actually left the area to the NE, somewhere towards Woodhouse Lane but it was difficult to keep track of them. Certainly I could only find 4 on the ground later. No sign of any juveniles and with all the commotion there was no sign of any incubation either.

(Ed Wilson)

4 Jun 16

2 Little Ringed Plovers today: widely separated and wandering about. No calls heard.

(Ed Wilson)

3 Jun 16

There were 3 Little Ringed Plover this morning. Cannot make up my mind whether it is two males disputing who should be with the female; or a pair running around together with another looking on. Some calling as well as display calls but I could find no sign of any juveniles. No-one looked like brooding (a 4th?) and none of them seemed to be too concerned about the crows.

(Ed Wilson)

28 May 16

I checked the W end of the concrete pan this morning. Pretty sure there are no Little Ringed Plovers there, only at E end that I did not check.

(Ed Wilson)

26 May 16

2 Little Ringed Plovers this morning together and running around. Were further E than most previous sightings, but not sure whether that has any significance.

(Ed Wilson)

I looked for the Little Ringed Plover today and it took 30 mins before one showed and 45 mins before the female? revealed itself leaving the probable nest site and the male took over briefly, while the female bathed and fed for about 5 or 10 minutes.

(Martin Grant)

25 May 16

At least 3 Little Ringed Plovers this morning. My: they can be hard. I saw one on the pan but it walked behind a rock and vanished. I changed position and waited some five minutes before a bird started flying around displaying. Only after the third fly-about did it land near another bird at which time a third bird flew over calling. Perhaps there are still two pairs. The vegetation was so wet on Saturday I did not go out on the pan, especially as another birdwatcher had been to the overlook. I’ll try this Saturday.

(Ed Wilson)

24 May 16

Just the 1 Little Ringed Plover again today

(Ed Wilson)

23 May 16

Almost the whole of the concrete ramp was awash this morning after the heavy rain we had on Saturday evening so I hope the Little Ringed Plover nest has not been flooded. There was one bird around this morning. I think it was the same bird I heard calling.

(Ed Wilson)

21 May 16

There were at least 2 Little Ringed Plovers on the pan today. Another birdwatcher reported seeing them mating earlier this morning. Might this mean they have lost the first clutch and will be re-laying?

(Ed Wilson)

20 May 16

Another day when I could find no Little Ringed Plovers. With no school (oops: Academy) tomorrow will venture out on the W end of the concrete pan and see what is going on.

(Ed Wilson)

19 May 16

Eventually managed to find 1 Little Ringed Plover this morning and I think it was another bird giving a ‘pip-pip-pip- call but I could not find it. A Song Thrush was singing about 3 feet away and it was hard to locate the sound of the Little Ringed Plover – of anything else really!

(Ed Wilson)

17 May 16

No sign of Little Ringed Plovers today.

(Ed Wilson)

16 May 16

Just 1 Little Ringed Plover today.

(Ed Wilson)

14 May 16

3 Little Ringed Plovers on the concrete pan: does not seem to be a 4th at the moment.

(Ed Wilson)

13 May 16

At least 2 Little Ringed Plovers today – thought I heard another calling, but the traffic noise prevented positive location of the call as not being given by one of the birds I could see.

(Ed Wilson)

9 May 16

3 Little Ringed Plovers today together. Two birds seemed to be snuggling down between the stones as if they might be settling on eggs but each only did so for a few seconds before wandering off.

8 Two of the Little Ringed Plovers this morning: at one stage all 3 were together, but not quick-enough to get them close ....

9 ... and this will have to do!

10 a disagreement?

11 Seemed to be settling to, perhaps, brood: but stayed only seconds.

12 A different bird doing the same things.

(Ed Wilson)

7 May 16

2 Little Ringed Plovers this morning: no sign of the Lapwings.

(Ed Wilson)

6 May 16

13 One of the pair of Lapwings on the old Celestica site

14 A reflective LRP!

15 Rather cross-looking here!

(Ed Wilson)

5 May 16

Saw just 1 Little Ringed Plover today but its position was such that to see whether it was with others I would have had to break cover and so to avoid any undue disturbance I moved on.

(Ed Wilson)

4 May 16

3 Little Ringed Plovers seen today, again making a lot of noise but there was a Magpie in the area so perhaps that is why.

(Ed Wilson)

3 May 16

At least 4 Little Ringed Plovers this morning, all seen on the ground at the E end of the old concrete ramp. One of these at least was flying around calling in display flight. Earlier a bird was displaying over the lake and two birds were briefly on the launching ramp. Whether these were a third pair ....

16 Two of the four Little Ringed Plovers with presumed display

17 A handsome bird

(Ed Wilson)

30 Apr 16

At least 4 Little Ringed Plovers this morning: lots of noise and when I looked over the fence there were two running around on the ground calling and two flying around calling with these two moving off W or perhaps just towards the W end of the concrete area. Later another birder (name not known) reported seeing two mating.

(Ed Wilson)

29 Apr 16

I saw the Little Ringed Plover display flying and calling over the breeding site and then over the E end of the lake.

(Ed Wilson)

1 Little Ringed Plover on the breeding site next to Castle Farm Way and probably the same one? on the grass in front of the sailing club shelter.

(Martin Grant)

28 Apr 16

There were 2 Little Ringed Plovers on the ground today.

(Ed Wilson)

26 Apr 16

Little Ringed Plovers heard this morning but I failed to see them.

(Ed Wilson)

26 Apr 16

No sign of the Little Ringed Plovers this morning but they may have been just keeping their heads down: there were 10 Magpies and 4 Crows making a lot of commotion in the trees. No obvious cause and rather strange as Magpies have been mainly paired up and dispersed at nests for some weeks.

(Ed Wilson)

At 6:00am 1 Little Ringed Plover seen

(John Isherwood)

13 Apr 16

This morning an Little Ringed Plover was flying around calling and as far as I could hear it crossed over Castle Farm Way and flew around the fields to the E, although I could not actually see it. Did manage some photos of one of the adults after it flew back in.

18 Not my best: the plain upperwing of the flying Little Ringed Plover.

19 Back on terra firma.

20 The yellow eye-ring can be very obvious.

21 In reflective mood. 

(Ed Wilson)  

4 Apr 16

22 One of the birds. (Ed Wilson)

(Ed Wilson)

1 Apr 16

Little Ringed Plovers today were only heard and then seen chasing around over their usual area. They flew low together to the W which may mean they are using a different part of the only concrete pan – a part that is harder to observe.

(Ed Wilson)

31 Mar 16

2 Little Ringed Plover, initially one bird in display flight and later two together on ground.

(John Isherwood)

The good news is that the Little Ringed Plovers are back – and possibly have been a while. I met John Isherwood and he told me he had seen and heard them displaying from across the lake. We walked around to my usual viewing spot and indeed there were two birds there

After I had walked around Woodhouse Lane I went back to my viewing point and could see nothing of the Little Ringed Plovers. So where were they hiding and how long might they have been there!

23 The pair of Little Ringed Plover have returned to their breeding site.

(Ed Wilson)