Yellow-wattled lapwing

In an open field in Hampi, surrounded by buildings, we saw a flock of skittish yellow-wattled lapwings (Vanellus malabaricus). I hadn’t seen one for years, although the IUCN red list calls it a species of least concern. They are said to be common over the whole of India and Sri Lanka, but birders talk of it as having become harder to spot in the last decade. They were wary of us, and would not let us approach closer than about 50 meters. Photographing them was a sneaky affair: inching jeeps close, getting off from the far-side door, and shooting from behind cover.

Grounds such as the one we saw would be the usual breeding ground for the birds, which lay well-camouflaged eggs in nests scratched into the ground. It was half a year past breeding season. The flock held many juveniles. They can be told by the fact that they have a brown cap instead of black. I suppose that proximity to humans brings dangers to the breeding grounds. Cows or goats could accidentally trample eggs. Rubbish dumps attract crows which also aggressively seek out and eat eggs of other birds. Human-animal conflict can come well-disguised.