This is an important request from Graham Evans and Chasewater Wildlife Group. Conservationists and birders are very concerned at the moment about the safety of a delicate little ground-nesting bird that’s taken residence at Chasewater.
Little Ringed Plovers are quite rare birds and the dry lake bed at Chasewater provides the ideal conditions for them to nest. Liking pebbly, gravel-strewn areas to breed, their nests are often disturbed by walkers and loose dogs. They aren’t easy to spot, and are easily stepped on.
Last year, warning signs were erected. Previously, the park management have erected fences around the nests to keep people away, but this had to be abandoned as they were getting stolen by scumbags. I hope warning signs can be erected soon, but knowing the awkward inertia often evident in the current park management, I’m not optimistic.
Although the poor weather and work commitments have prevented a thorough survey of the Little Ringed Plover numbers this year, it would appear that there are at least 10 pairs attempting to nest. However, with the extent of the shoreline continuing to shrink with the rising water-levels, the pressure put on them by both people and dogs is greater than last year. The three pairs on the South Shore are being constantly disturbed, resulting in potentially long periods off the nest during unseasonably cold weather conditions.
I’ve seen no warning/information signs around the site so I presume a blind eye is being turned to the situation by the current site managers.
In short, we’d like all readers of this blog who visit Chasewater to keep off the lakebed as much as possible, or if they do venture onto it, watch where you’re walking. Keep your dogs under control, and try not to let them chase the birds. The plovers are remarkable little birds and well worth a spot, so take a pair of binoculars or a scope and observe from a distance.
Remember, it’s the wildlife that makes Chasewater such a joy to visit. Please help by taking as much care to look out for Little Ringed Plovers as you can.
Wikipedia has this to say about these curious little fellows:
The Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius) is a small plover. Adults have a grey-brown back and wings, a white belly, and a white breast with one black neckband. They have a brown cap, a white forehead, a black mask around the eyes with white above and a short dark bill. The legs are flesh-coloured and the toes are all webbed.
This species differs from the larger Ringed Plover in leg colour, the head pattern, and the presence of a clear yellow eye-ring.
Their breeding habitat is open gravel areas near freshwater, including gravel pits, islands and river edges in Europe and western Asia. They nest on the ground on stones with little or no plant growth. Both male and female take turn to incubate the eggs.
They are migratory and winter in Africa. These birds forage for food on muddy areas, usually by sight. They eat insects and worms.
The Little Ringed Plover is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.