Science - March 20, 2012

Binnenveld plover is early bird

The first plover’s egg has been found in the Binnenveld. At Hoge Born, on land owned by Wageningen UR. But the plover is not doing well.

 
Hans van der Velde from Bennekom reaped his reward on Thursday 15 March. Shortly after midday he found a nest containing four beautiful speckled plover's eggs. 'Four at once, a full nest in other words, that is unusual. Unheard of, actually,' says the experienced volunteer with the Working Group on Meadow Birds for Binnenveld East about his find.
Early bird
Four eggs, that means that the plover had been busy for sometime, says the volunteers' coordinator Henk van Paassen. 'Counting back, the first of those eggs must have been laid on 11 March. That is two days after the first plover's egg in the Netherlands was found in Oudehaske in Friesland. So this was a very early plover. One day the first plover's egg in the Netherlands will be found in the Binnenveld.' It's no coincidence that the first egg was found by a WBO volunteer. Volunteers have been protecting the meadow birds in the Binnenveld for 20 years and are sitting right on top of them, so to speak. Van der Velde is responsible for some 23 hectares of the Binnenveld. He spots nests and marks the site with a stick. So that farms don't flatten the brood with their heavy agricultural machines. Protection is what it's all about, even though it is a sport to find the first egg each year.
Poorly
But plovers are doing poorly, you know, says Van Paassen. Elsewhere in the country reports have been received that plover numbers have more than halved since last year. 'Whether or not that's the case here, I can't yet say. But we do have a diminishing number of nests. Last year the number of nests in our part of the Binnenveld fell from 300 to 225. That's down by a quarter, so there's clearly something going on.' According to Van Paassen this is due in part to the dry spring. 'Meadow birds like wet ground.'
Incidentally, Van der Velde won't be receiving a certificate. 'We don't do that here,' says Van Paassen, 'For us, it is all about the honour and getting a mention in the books.' And a photo with the councillor. The Wageningen councillor Michiel Uytdehaag was invited to take a look at the nest with its eggs.
 

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