“I initially had a poor morning bird watching as I had decided to re-explore old haunts in the city that had good findings in the past. As expected, mal-development, with the insatiable need for housing, had damaged many locations. Housing today are ‘heat traps’ with the extensive use of cement, tar and pavement so that there are almost no green gardens or fringes.
“I came across a pair of Red-wattled Lapwings (Vanellus indicus atronuchalis) that were resident at one site – a large location with open secondary growth, muddy ponds and dense undergrowth. Surprisingly the pair were already calling out before I got near. The calls were not the classical “did-he-do-it” in response to an intruder. I watched from some distance and then recognised that they had chicks and that one was in trouble. The undergrowth at the site was dense so the chicks ‘on land’ could not be seen (above).
“However the adults were concerned and calling out because one of the chicks had fallen into a large drain. I watched from the car as they made many attempts to encourage the juvenile with calls and direction to get out (above). I was impressed with the determination and swimming abilities of the juvenile, hence the name ‘Valiant’ (below). The water in the drain was at least 10-15 cm in some sections; fortunately there were ‘sand banks’ and vegetation to help the young one.
“I was planning to leave them to it and not interfere. But when I returned 20 minutes later they appeared to have given up and the young one was possibly tired. The height of the drain did not really allow for an escape. I managed to make my way to the location and despite my proximity, one adult that had stayed with the chick, did not leave until the last moment, giving loud alarm calls – again different from classical concern calls and the first time I have heard these.
“I had difficulty locating the chick due to the excellent camouflage (above). It looked exhausted and hypothermic. I took a few quick images and hoisted the young chap out of the drain onto a dry patch of land. I left immediately so as to minimise trauma. I watched from a distance as one parent came to rescue the young one while the other continued to belay me with the “did-he-do-it”.
I look forward to Valiant continuing the progeny of Red-wattled Lapwing at this site, barring the invasion of man.
“A video (using car as hide) of some of the parental rescue attempts and calls is given above.”
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
29th April 2018
Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Secondary on the fringe of the city