Foot tapping feeding behaviour in waders

To: "" <>
Subject: Foot tapping feeding behaviour in waders
From: "Geering, Andrew" <>
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 1998 17:22:00 +1000
Dear All

On the weekend I was watching waders in central Moreton Bay and I had
the opportunity to observe 5 Red-kneed Dotterel at close hand (about 10
m away with the aid of a telescope).  They were feeding on the edge of a
lagoon that has formed behind mangroves.  The lagoon is tidally fed.
They were feeding in a mixed flock containing Curlew Sandpiper and
Red-necked Stint.  In the wet mud and very shallow water (perhaps 1 cm
deep), they had an intriguing behaviour of tapping their feet extremely
rapidly (perhaps 10 taps in a row), and then they would probe/peck
either in front or to the side of the foot.  When they moved onto dry
mud, they did not exhibit this behaviour.  The other species of wader
feeding on the same substrate also did not exhibit this behaviour.  I
assume the point of this behaviour is to cause their prey to move,
probably to evade danger, and were thus more easily spotted by the bird.

Have other people observed this behaviour in other species?  Are there
published records of this behaviour?  Perhaps I haven't been observant
enough in the past.

Regards, Andrew Geering.

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