Golden Plover (Photo: Laurie Campbell)
The Golden Plover is a common moorland wader on Harris
Golden plovers are one of our most distinctive moorland birds arriving on the moors in the spring to make the most of the long days and abundant insects. They have a distinctive high pitched plaintive call that immediately gives them away. Golden plovers are common on the drier areas of heather moorland, particularly in areas with small knolls and rises.
Golden Plovers have several adaptations to avoid predation
(Photo: Cliff Reddick)
Along with all wading birds golden plover nest on the ground. Ground nesting is very risky because of threats from predators on the ground and from the sky. Golden plovers and other waders have overcome this problem in several ways. The young of most birds can’t walk soon after hatching but wader chicks can walk immediately after they hatch so the parents can lead them away from danger. Waders also use distraction display to protect their young from danger. This is when the adults make lots of noise or fake injury to lead predators away from their young. Waders are also very well camouflaged blending in with the surrounding plants and rocks. Wader chicks freeze, remaining motionless, when threatened and become almost impossible to see against the moss, heather and other plants. The eggs of waders are also well camouflaged making it difficult for Ravens and Crows to spot them from the sky.
In the autumn Golden plovers leave the moors and head for the coast where they often join flocks of lapwings finding safety in numbers.
(Photo: Laurie Campbell)
by Robin Reid