2017—Hidden In Plain Sight
Most of the nests that we saw while in Churchill were nothing more than scrapes. The tundra provides a soft place for the birds to nestle but they don’t seem to add much other material to the nests. One day we were very lucky to find the hummock upon which an American Golden-plover had nested. We approached the nest one by one, one step at a time: lift tripod; move it forward a couple of feet; take two steps; pause; watch the bird. If the bird doesn’t seem to notice the slow advance, then, repeat. If she notices, she will likely leave the nest and run away pretending she has an injured wing. If this happens, freeze in place and wait several minutes for her to return to the nest. Try again. We were careful not to stress the bird because if she left the nest for too long a period, the eggs would get too cold. Four of us advancing toward the nest singly, two steps at a time, took about half an hour. If we had stressed her too much, we would have abandoned our approach. Lucky for us she was very cooperative and did not appear stressed.
This series of photographs shows her on the nest, standing by the nest, getting ready to settle onto the eggs, and back on the nest. If you look closely, the eggs are hiding in plain sight. The large spotted eggs are visible in the second and third photographs. I counted three eggs but there may have been more. They blend in so well with the reindeer moss.