The whisper of a child

“What are you looking at?” the little girl’s whisper surprised me. I was lying on the beach looking towards the dunes and no one else had seemed to notice me, even the little girl’s mother had wandered further along the beach before turning to check on her daughter.

 

201501041519_1484_
Hooded Plover
Canon 7DII, 100-400L IS USM, 1/1000, f/8, ISO 200, focal length 400mm

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The Hooded Plover above is easy to see in this image but they are tiny shore birds measuring just 21cm and are difficult to see unless you’ve had practice looking for them as their disruptive camouflage is very effective. I was a fair distance from the bird and the little girl was unable to see it until it bobbed a little and took a short run across the sand.

 

201501020833_0861_Hooded Plover chicks

 

There are two ‘stashed’ Hooded Plover chicks in the image above; imagine trying to find them across hundreds of metres of sand dunes. Whenever I see hoodies I quietly thank the volunteers who protect the nests and hatchlings, and also the members of the public who keep their dogs on leashes and walk them on alternative beaches.

 

 Hooded Plover - Kim Wormald
Hooded Plover chicks

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Hooded Plover chicks forage for themselves and instinctively hide by going to ground if anyone walks along the beach. While hiding like this they are less likely to be seen by the potential predator but they are also unable to forage or seek shelter. They stay like this for a long time even after the ‘threat’ has gone which can have serious consequences in extreme weather conditions, and can even cause starvation.

When I photograph hoodies I creep up slowly, sometimes using a hide and often grazing my knees and elbows. By carefully watching the birds I can make sure that I don’t disturb them. I observe how they behave when people go by – generally adult hoodies run away, occasionally they’ll take off – and what’s most fascinating is that virtually no one notices them. The chicks’ parents were strangely unbothered by the little girl, children like her are our hope for the future. It was a magical moment.

Happy birding, Kim

 

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