White Crowned Plover vs Dikkops

26th October 2011
Yesterday, I went again to watch the hippos in the river. I reached the bottom of the steps into the hide, and heard a deep throaty hissing sound coming from my right. I've heard that sound before, and it's not something you want to hear in an enclosed space. I raised my hand to cover my eyes, and turned slowly, expecting to come face to face with a Cobra.
Relieved that I wasn't sharing the hide with a large snake, I started to hunt around to find the source of the noise. Turned out to be a much louder noise than I had expected, but coming from further away across a small lagoon. Two Water Dikkops (Thick-knees) were facing off against a White Crowned Plover on a sand bar about 15m away.

While I watched, the two Dikkops opened their wings and advanced on the Plover, apparently wishing to chase him from the area. Initially, the plover tried to retaliate, but the combined efforts of the two Dikkops were always pushing him back.

But whatever it was that caused the incident was obviously worth fighting for, as the Plover came back for another attempt. But the Dikkops had clearly had enough by this stage, and one of them lowered his head and charged, mammal-like, at the Plover, causing it to cartwheel backwards over the top.

It's unusual to see fighting between species, since territorial behaviour is usually only towards others of the same kind. In this case, I think that the two were competing for nesting sites, since they both choose to use scrapes on sand bars in which to lay their eggs. In this case, the larger Dikkops managed to drive off the Plover and claim the site.

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