This is one reason why most of our chooks don’t free range.

'Bugger off, this is mine!'

Here in this part of the world we have an amazing number of raptors, this ‘swamp harrier’ (I’m fairly sure this is what this chap is) has caught what might have once been a large wattle bird.  Tasmania is the only place in the world where these birds adopt a migratory pattern, arriving in Tasmania in late winter, early spring, in time for the nesting of the hooded/masked plover.  They are a joy to watch in flight, as are most of the larger raptors.

We also have regular visits from whistling kites, wedge tailed eagles, brown falcons and a white goshawk.  The latter being possibly the most dangerous for free range poultry, as according to a local poultry expert Paul Healy, the goshawk is the only raptor that will attack from the ground.  All of the other raptors, apparently, will only attack from the air, whilst the goshawk will attack from the air and once on the ground will pursue it’s quarry.

I don’t think I have ever recorded a fatality (poultry or otherwise) from our friendly white goshawk, swamp harriers however have certainly taken a number of our chooks.  This is why at this time of the year the plovers are my best friend in the paddocks.  Yes they will swoop me if I am too close to their nest but, any time a raptor, or even a crow, comes into the area, one of the plovers will attack them until they move on, all the while making loud calls of alarm.  It is incredible watching such a small bird as a plover, working desperately, flapping it’s wings, to gain altitude, to take on a wedge tailed eagle.

Cue teenage boy (blog photographer on school holidays) to get a photo of a plover as I’m much too busy.