(2) Ringed Plover
(3) Ringed Plovers Eggs
The Ringed Plover
Now is the time that we have to watch our step as we wander along our shores with the danger of making “Scrambled Eggs” with the ground nesting birds intended family.
Recently, even though the weather was cold and wet, it was the time for the birds to choose a partner- then, doing what comes naturally- then, choose a nest site- build the nest- and lay their eggs! All very well, as it was quiet at that time, with no members of the public venturing out to places like Scalpsie Bay to see the seals, as it was too wet and windy, so birds like the Oystercatcher, and the Ringed Plover started to play “Happy Families”. These birds really don’t build a nest as such. It is more of a scrape amongst the pebbles above the high tide mark, with occasionally a few small twigs and grasses, but they do not want you or anything else to see their nest so their furnishings are very sparse. Their eggs blend in very well with the surrounding pebbles etc., making them very hard to see, which is the main idea, more so to prevent birds like Hooded Crows spotting their clutch of eggs, not for a pair of “size tens” to stand on them, crushing them underfoot, with the poor wee bird remonstrating as hard as it can to keep you away from their prized possessions.
As you wander along the beach and stand on a nest of eggs, you may not even know that you have done so, as you will have not heard or felt a thing due to the sound of your boots or shoes on the pebbles, and as you retrace your steps homeward bound, you may still miss the damage that you have caused, but the mother bird will notice it alright. It is start again time for her and her mate depending on how far the eggs were on in the incubation time. If they had only been laid for a few days, then she will lay more, but if it was near the time for them to hatch, it may be too late in the season to lay another clutch, all because of you “Size Tens”. If it was later on in the season and you noticed that you had stood on the eggs and crushed them, and instead of scrambled eggs, there is perfectly formed little chicks lying dead at your feet, how will you feel?
It is easy to avoid this catastrophe by using a bit of common sense.
Take Scalpsie for instance, and use it as a blueprint for all coastal walks and all other walks as well at this time of year.
You park your car at the path leading down to the beach. This path should be clear of problems and birds’ nests, but still be aware, don't let the weans run amok, keep them on a tight reign, then when you get to the sands, step with care. The best thing to do is to head for the area below high tide, watching just in front of your feet as you go, not to either sides, and when you pass the high tide mark you can relax as no bird in its right mind will lay their eggs where they could be washed away.
Proceed along the beach without problems, except that if you have to go on to the coastal path again, watch your step once more. It may be a path to you but not to a ringed plover, it is an ideal nest site to lay its four little eggs that sit 'thin ends to thin ends'.
If you want to see the sights, then stop and look, as, if you walk and look at the sights then you may upset more that your weans.
The birds will see you coming, long before you are near them, they will head away from the nest, calling, so that you will look at them rather than look for their nest. It is tempting for your eyes to follow them, but ignore, look where you are going and all should be well.
The wee bird that you see here is the one that I have been talking about.
A Ringed Plover, but there are other birds that will be nesting in these areas, so take care.
First Published in the Buteman 10-06-2006.