Spring Has Sprung, 2017 Style

It’s been raining a bit this week, so it was nice today to get out and about in the sunshine. Usually on the weekend, I take a walk down to the supermarket and back to get some outside fitness time in.

One of the features along the walk is Northwood Park. It’s a large, 1 block wide by 1 block long park where the Northwood Fair and Aussie Rules Football matches take place. (Woo hoo.) Along Northwood Boulevard — one of the main thoroughfares through our neighborhood, also named Northwood — runs a drainage ditch with a bus stop and pull-over area in the middle.

That drainage ditch is the local hangout for a bird couple. The type of bird is known as a spur-winged plover, and I think they are adorable. (Thank you New Zealand Birds Online for putting a name to the bird.) I’m not sure if it’s the long legs or the cool color scheme or what, but these two birds strike me as, well, neighbors of the feathery kind.

Spur-winged plover. Adult. Wellington, June 2009. Image © Duncan Watson by Duncan Watson
Spur-winged plover. Adult. Wellington, June 2009. Image © Duncan Watson by Duncan Watson

Over the last few weeks, the female has been nesting between a lamp post and the side of the road — I honestly can’t believe how close they always are to the boulevard — and every time we have gone past, the other cars going by have been careful. Someone even erected a type of make-shift wire frame over her and her nest to protect her from the council’s lawnmowers and other things. (Whoever you are, if you are reading this: you’re a star and one hell of an awesome person. Thank you.)

But, on Wednesday, she was gone from the nest, and she and her partner were now down at their usual haunt at the other end of the drainage ditch at the park. No babies in sight, sadly.

Back to today and my walk: As I’m heading down to the supermarket, I go past the couple. The male (I assume) is completely going haywire in his alert call. The female (I assume) is trying to lead me away by running into the street. Needless to say, even though I was cooing at them to try to calm them down, I high-tailed it away from there so the female would get out of the street.

On my way back, I walked that way again, but I turned at the corner so I wasn’t as close to them. They seemed weary of me, and then…

I spotted a chick darting in and out of the ditch. The father started “yelling” at the chick, like: “Junior! Get back into the nest!”

Mother was a bit panicky, but she didn’t run into the road.

Junior, on the other hand, seemed rather excited to see me and my red reusable shopping bag and was keen on coming up and saying hello.

Until Father completely lost his cool and told Junior off. Junior complied and disappeared into a big tuft of moderately long grass which I assumed was the nest.

Junior looked like a cartoon character, with a tuft of baby feathers poking up from the middle of his head like Alfalfa from the Little Rascals. He was adorable.

Here’s a photo I also found on New Zealand Birds Online which kinda looked like Junior:

Spur-winged plover. Chick foraging. Flat Bush, Auckland, August 2014. Image © Marie-Louise Myburgh by Marie-Louise Myburgh
Spur-winged plover. Chick foraging. Flat Bush, Auckland, August 2014. Image © Marie-Louise Myburgh by Marie-Louise Myburgh

So cute! I can’t wait to see the baby grow up.

I didn’t want to intrude any closer on this pair, so I am using images I have found on the Web to illustrate what I mean. I believe this is fair use; however, if you are the owner of the photograph in question and feel you do not wish for me to use it, please contact me, and I will respond as soon as I can. No infringement was meant.

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