With spring comes the promise of warmer days and the start of the breeding season for many bird species. One such species is a Plover called a Black-fronted Dotterel. It is one of the waders that spend all year in Australia.
At only 16–18cm it is a small bird with short yellowish pink legs. It has a black facemask and forehead that extends back through the eyes under a white eyebrow. There is a black v-shaped breast-band that extends down the chest, and the top of the head is brown. On the shoulder it has a deep purplish-chestnut patch and a white underbelly. A striking red eye ring is the central feature of the face and the bill is red with a black tip.
This Plover spends most of the time on gravel, sand or mud near shallow fresh water where it feeds. It is an active little bird and when foraging it runs along on rapid legs, stops abruptly, bobs its head, pecks at the mud and then runs again.
In flight it keeps low with deep flicking wing beats, showing a white bar in the wing. It usually gives a high-pitched metallic “tink-tink” call as it flies.
Breeding season is usually from August to December but can take place at any time when the conditions are suitable.
The nest is a shallow scrape in the sand or gravel, or among riverbed stones and is usually very close to water and often among the debris on the water’s edge. These birds lay a clutch of 1–3 eggs that are incubated by both sexes for about 25 days. There are a few good places to look for these gregarious and distinctively plumaged birds in the Parklands such as Kensington Pond and Randwick Pond.