Look what Little Monkey and I found just down the road; a little family of Spotted Dikkops.
They are amazing birds, with bright yellow legs and knobbly knees, giving rise to their other name of Cape Thick-Knees.
Their colouring blends in so well with their stony surroundings, that their main defence is to stand stock still and hope that a predator simply does not see them.
LM and Dikkop 2
As you can see from the photos, this defence works very well. Dogs notice movement more than anything, so often pass by very still prey.
I have walked with three dogs and passed within a metre of a Black Headed Heron and not one of them noticed it. Now, this is a large bird, standing nearly a metre tall, not including its long beak that it held vertically upwards. But it stood stock still and so escaped detection.
Unfortunately, the tiny youngster did not entirely trust this defence mechanism just yet and he started slowly creeping towards one parent. The other parent, on noticing this, also started walking slowly after the chick, trying to distract us.
They are very good parents and the first that I knew they were back in the neighbourhood was when Little Monkey and I came across both adult birds outside the property, with one of them right in the middle of the street.
LM and I crossed to the other side of the road to give them as much space as possible, but the one bird remained chirping in the middle of the road.
Then we saw two dogs dragging their owner round the corner of the road ahead of us and then I realised that the bird was trying to distract them and lead them away from her chick.
Now I’ve met this owner and dogs before, so they know LM needs space and fortunately they stopped and waited. This gave me time to gently herd the bird back into its property. It was extremely unwilling to go back, in its mind leading me towards its chick, but eventually I managed to get him safely to the railings.
LM will not chase birds while on the lead, but the other dogs looked like they knew no such rules.
Then LM and I could proceed on our way, in the opposite direction to the other dogs.
So I am very happy that this little family is back in our neighbourhood and hope that the chick makes it to adulthood.
They are unique birds.