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Lapwings vs. Herons

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Old Tuesday 30th July 2019, 15:26   #1
Dromo
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Lapwings vs. Herons

A couple of years ago, I was at the London Wetland Centre when I noticed some lapwings behaving in an unusual manner. After watching for a short while, I realised that they were dive-bombing one of the innumberable grey herons that inhabit the LWC in much the same way that crows will mob birds of prey such as buzzards. The heron in question, instead of standing immobile as per usual, was moving resolutely through the terrain. I presume that the lapwings had a nest in the area and the heron was looking for a cheap meal. The process went on for quite a well and resulted in a victory for the lapwings; the heron feeling distinctly uncomfortable under the barrage of aerial attacks. Here's a few photos that show what went on.
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Old Tuesday 30th July 2019, 16:41   #2
Hauksen
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Hi Dromo,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dromo View Post
The heron in question, instead of standing immobile as per usual, was moving resolutely through the terrain. I presume that the lapwings had a nest in the area and the heron was looking for a cheap meal.
That's quite an interesting observation!

One similar observation that comes to my mind had a heron walking along the edge of a drainage ditch (and probably not really interested in the lapwings' nest at that moment), being mobbed by two Lapwings in a quite spirited fashion.

This heron met each swoop by threatening the swooping lapwing with the beak, but the lapwings were trying to coordinate their attacks (it seemed) so that one lapwing would come from behind when the heron was threatening the other.

The heron didn't give up quickly either, but he clearly didn't like what was going on, and if I remember correctly, he finally flew over the narrow ditch and continued to prowl on the other side, which apparently was far enough for the lapwings, as they ceased their attacks.

With numbers of lapwings dwindling in Germany, it seems to get harder for the shrinking colonies to muster the numbers of defenders required to fend off predators. Camouflage as protection has its limits, though undoubedly, lapwings are quite good at it.

Regards,

Henning
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Old Saturday 3rd August 2019, 05:31   #3
johnallcock
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Black-winged Stilts nesting in Hong Kong do this with almost anything that moves - not only people and black kites (which are the only real threat) but also herons, egrets and even painted-snipe at times. We once had a vagrant Great Thick-knee and it was chased by the stilts all day.

Your heron may not have been looking for a meal, just walking through the area. I think the instinct to defend a nest or chicks is so strong that the parents will not risk anything nearby that seems even remotely like a potential threat. Their calls not only drive the 'predator' away, but warn chicks to take cover and stay hidden until the 'danger' has passed.
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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 14:29   #4
Muso
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Lapwings v Anything?

I was recently in one of the hides at Loch Gruinart on Islay, and there were loads of Lapwings about. At one point a Mute Swan approached too near where a Lapwing chick was hidden, and one Lapwing started dive-bombing it. The Swan was just quietly eating vegetation, but the Lapwing pestered it until it moved away from the location of the chick (I had earlier noticed the chick moving about, so knew it was there).

For the most part, the Swan ignored the attacks, but every now and then would have a go at defence. The Lapwing was always too quick (even for my camera!), but when the Swan moved off, it settled down. I guess anything that comes near is going to get challenged.
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