Some of you may be wondering "what has happened to the September stone-curlew chicks?"
I will be honest with you here.... we don't truly know. On return from my holiday, I made a visit to the plot to search for the birds, but could not find even one bird. Now, stone-curlew can be hard to find at the best of times, so I did not give up hope straight away, I revisited later on in the week, but...still no birds!
"Ok" I thought. "Maybe this is just a case of them leaving the plot to find more cover in the surrounding field". So I set myself the task of scanning the field while walking up and down the length of it , to try and flush one of the adults. No birds.
"Maybe they moved to the neighbouring stubble field" I hoped. So the next day I re-walked the field, and then did the same to the stubble field. In the stubble field I flushed red-legged partridge, brown hare and four roe deer. But still no stone-curlew.
So did the chicks fail? Well, we cant be sure. If we had seen the adults on more than one occasion without the chicks then we would record that as a failed breeding attempt. However, because both the chicks and the adults disappeared, we can't draw the same conclusions, as they may just have been hiding extremely well (something stone-curlew are very good at) It is very frustrating to not have a definite answer, and to have to record the outcome as "unknown" but it does mean that we can still hold on to the hope that just maybe the chicks made it.....
Now that we are almost at the end of October, we are pretty much at the end of the stone-curlew season. They are here for longer than most migrants - arriving from March and staying right through to October, and even in to November! Our mini stone-curlew roost has now dispersed, and they may be back in their over wintering grounds in Northern Africa by now. But as we say good bye to our stone-curlews, we say hello to many more of our feathered friends. Lapwing and golden plover move south from their breeding grounds in the winter, and last year the reserve held large flocks of these birds - up to 700 lapwing and 300 golden plover! These birds like to use the stone-curlew plot to roost on, and feed on the surrounding grassland reversions, which are rich in invertebrate life.