Wader Wednesday – Lapwings

The lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), once a common sight across the UK, but now in decline and UK red-listed.

Initial declines were due to egg collectors which resulted in the Lapwing Act in 1926 which banned lapwing eggs from being collected, after which the species showed good signs of recovery.

Later declines relate to the usual suspects – habitat loss (drainage of marginal lands) and changes in farming practices such as conversion of large areas of grassland to arable in the post-second world war period and a later change from spring to autumn sown crops which reduced winter feeding areas. Increased fertiliser use on pasture has resulted in a more uniform sward, earlier cutting for silage and lower food availability. Add to that the risk of trampling by livestock and its easy to see why the species has dropped by around 80% in England and Wales since the 1960s and around 30% in Scotland since 1987.

However, it was good to see decent winter numbers of them in Norfolk recently.