British wildlife recordings
Vanellus vanellus : Lapwing - Charadriidae
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Frensham Great Pond, Surrey: OS Grid Reference(484500,140500)
Williams, Aubrey John
Lapwing, Vanellus vanellus
The call of the lapwing, recorded at Frensham Great Pond in Surrey. The lapwing is a distinctive-looking wader with very broad, rounded black and white wings, a dark green back, and an upward pointing crest on the back of the head. It is found over much of Britain, commonly breeding on farmland, pasture, and wet grassland. During the early part of the breeding season, birds can be seen engrossed in complex display where the male will fly over its territory slowly, climb suddenly, then tumble downwards with its wings making a humming sound. It is during the breeding season that the distinctive call of the lapwing is most often heard, a wheezy, drawn-out 'peewit' from which the colloquial name of the bird derives. In autumn, the lapwing congregates on fields in large flocks, numbers often being swelled by additional birds from the continent to feed on a variety of invertebrates including earthworms, wood-lice, and caterpillars. The lapwing has undergone a recent decline in numbers, falling by fifty per cent in the last decade, due to changes in farming practice and draining of wet meadows where it traditionally breeds. There is currently a breeding population of 240,000 pairs, but in winter over 2,000,000 birds are recorded.