28 May 2018 | Posted in Rye Harbour , Birds

A local name for the ringed plover is Stonerunner, because it nests on the shingle and the adults and chicks run over the stones. Their nests are well camouflaged with the eggs looking like 4 little stones... can you see them yet?

A bit closer...

Here they are!

We found the nest on 19th May alongside the private road at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve and the female became tolerant of people and dogs passing close by, so we were able to follow its progress.

At 7am on 26th May the first chick was hatched and dry.

By 4pm the first chick had left the nest with an adult and 2 other chicks had hatched,

By 8am the next day the 4th chick had hatched and was nearly dry, and an hour later they had all left the nest to run about over the stones to find their insect food and be cared for by their parents.

One way the adults protects their young, if danger approaches, is to pretend to have a broken wing and flutter across the ground while calling - this often lures a predator away from the chicks. It takes about 24 days to incubate the eggs and another 24 days for the chicks to fly, so that's about 7 weeks of being vunerable to ground predators... these chicks have a long way to go!

The ringed plover is RED listed because of recent declines in the UK and in Sussex there are about 60 pairs nesting with about half of these at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve where most pairs (but not the one above) benefit from large fenced areas protecting against people, dogs, fox and badgers.

This is one of six wading birds that nest at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, the others are little ringed plover, redshank, lapwing, oystercatcher and avocet. Now is a very good time to see all these wading birds, some with their chicks, but please take care not to disturb them, their life is already very tough and they need all the help and luck to survive...