Terrestrial lapwings and thick-knees
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Crowned Lapwing L: 30 cm (12") Lapwings are medium-sized ground birds with long legs, short bills and broad, rounded wings . The Crowned Lapwing is tall and brown with a white belly, and has a distinct white ‘halo’ ring around a dark crown . The immature is duller, but still retains the crown pattern . This species is common in Kruger, including some of the camps, with numbers increasing in the winter (June–August) when grasslands are more open . Small groups feed in cropped and recently burnt grassland, where they search for their favoured prey, termites and ants . Noisy, scratchy “kirre” calls give it the Afrikaans name of Kiwiet . Senegal Lapwing L: 26 cm (10") An upright, white-bellied, dark lapwing with a grey breast and face, white chin and forehead, and black legs . It differs from the superficially similar Blackwinged Lapwing (not illustrated) by its smaller size, dark legs, a distinct small white forehead patch, and, in flight, by an all-white trailing edge to the wing . Senegal Lapwing is somewhat nomadic, although its movements are poorly understood, and is uncommon in Kruger, while Black-winged Lapwing has not been confirmed to occur in the park . Small groups scurry on open, gravelly and short-grass plains looking for insects, and it is frequently found in recently burnt grasslands . Its presence can be detected by loud “chi-whoo” calls . Terrestrial lapwings and thick-knees 68 When sleeping during the day, the SpottedThick-knee is cryptic and can be difficult to find. It crouches down, often appearing horizontal, with its breast, neck and head flush to the ground and its legs covered. Look under bushes and in shaded areas if you are trying to find one. SpottedThick-knee L: 43 cm (17") A tall, tawny-brown, yellow-legged terrestrial bird, a little like a large plover and resembling the Water Thick-knee (page 42), but with distinct dark spots . Its huge yellow eyes hint at its mainly nocturnal habits: by day this strange-looking bird crouches down under bushes or other cover and uses its cryptic plumage to conceal itself; after dark it becomes active and runs around feeding on insects . Spotted Thick-knee is an uncommon resident in Kruger, and is often seen on night drives; groups may reveal their presence with loud “ti-ti-ti teeeteeeteeee-ti ti ti” calls . If an intruder approaches a nest the adult bird engages in an elaborate threat display, drooping its wings, extending its neck, and charging forward, hissing loudly . The Afrikaans name for thick-knees is ‘dikkop’, which means ‘thick-head’ – a reference to the bulbous head . BIRDS OF PLAINS AND OPEN WOODLANDS 69 ...