Sharp-eyed ecologist shifts camouflaged dotterel eggs from a road to a man-made nest; mother none the wiser

It’s generally not a good idea to interfere with nature, but sometimes it’s a tough call.

Recently a Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin staff member encountered just such a dilemma.

Wetland ecologist James Donaldson came across a black-fronted dotterel who had made her nest in tyre tracks on a road that had been closed since the recent flooding.

“If the bird and nest had been left in the tyre tracks they would have been squashed by the next vehicle to drive along the road,” he said.

“While it’s not good to disturb nesting birds, it seemed an obvious thing to try to protect the mother bird and her eggs.

“They were nearly invisible in the gravel.

“I decided to shift the whole nest off the road … I made a new rock nest for the mother and her eggs a few metres from the original nest, off the road.

“I carefully gathered the three eggs and put them in the new nest and waited for the mother to return.”

The photos tell the happy conclusion for the dotterel and her eggs.

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