We were up before dawn this morning, simply to enjoy a sunrise breakfast. Below us, on the mirror-calm surface of Lake Tinaroo, there were three platypi out and about at that early hour.
Following breakfast I had planned on photographing the Masked Lapwings that have been sitting on eggs for some weeks now. They can be seen from our breakfast table too, about 70 yards away. I was initially alarmed to see that the hen was not on the nest this morning. However the pair was close by and from their demeanour I could tell they had hatched their brood overnight.
Initially the pair had laid four beautifully camouflaged eggs into a slight depression in the lawn. Somewhere along the way a predator had claimed two of the eggs, but the pair doggedly sat, and guarded, their remaining two eggs.
After a delicious breakfast of bacon and eggs, with a couple of cups of strong black coffee, I was ready to photograph lions, let alone Lapwings. I rode down slowly on the quad, which has become virtually a mobile blind for me. The Lapwings and other birds have become used to the Polaris 550 X2 ATV and seem to treat it like they would livestock; that is, with cautious tolerance.
If I dismount the ATV and walk about it is quite a different story however, and the birds become much more wary and alarmed.
The Lapwings, also known as Spur-winged plovers, due to the obvious sharp wing spurs, which they can use to good effect in defence.
As I slowly approached the Lapwings I could see a single, new hatchling tottering about on its large, ungainly legs; a mottled little puff-ball set on top of disproportionately large feet.
At an alarm call from the parents the little fellow sat down and froze, quickly blending into the ground. He was no bigger than a box of matches. After a few minutes the parents relaxed and ceased their warning chatter.
The baby stood up and allowed me to get a few photos before tottering off to join the coaxing parents.
It was a good result and I happily returned to the house to take on a morning of chores.