Masked lapwing (plover) with hatchling in nest. Photo by me, CC licensed. Click to embiggenate.
The masked lapwings have been even more intensely vigilant than ususal in the last few days, and this morning the reason became clear — three chicks hatched just after dawn.
Parent lapwing protects the youngest chick in the next, while keeping an eye on an older chick that's wandered off. Photo by me, CC licensed. Click to embiggenate.
Two chicks were born quite early and a third appeared later in the morning. By the time baby sis (or bro) was born, the other two were already waddling around the lawn, pecking at the odd worm — all under the watchful eyes of both parents.
This final photo shows the whole family.
A family of masked lapwings (plovers) - two parents, three chicks. Photo by me, CC licensed. Click to embiggenate.
I’ve read that plovers have a language of six to eight phrases that they use to manage their families — alert, alarm, go over there, come back to the nest etc. It will be interesting to see whether I can distinguish any of these phrases over the next couple of months as the chicks mature.
Update Tue 30 August: Back garden has persisted in being completely ploverless for two days now. I was ill over the weekend, didn’t see what happened. I wonder whether plovers feel grief or regret — and whether they’ll try breeding here again next winter. It might be a good idea to plant some more shrubbery, to persuade them to nest somewhere less cat-ridden.