Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

A little over half way along the Buttery Way, the ancient thoroughfare that separates Tibberton Moor from the Longford Moors, stands Peewit Cottage. It’s one of several place names on the moorlands that pay testament to the area’s wetland heritage. In this instance, however, the tribute is less about legacy but more of a reminder of a species that, perhaps more than any other, can be considered the living icon of the modern day Weald Moors…

ID: the Lapwing (alternatively known as the Peewit or Green Plover) is a predominantly black and white wading bird, with an iridescent green and purple sheen and a wispy crest — which is slightly longer in adult males.
The Weald Moors is among the most regionally important areas for breeding Lapwing in the west Midlands (Jim Almond)
In the Field: a bird of open farmland that can breed on permanent pasture and in arable fields with spring-sown crops (such as sugar beet, barley and potatoes). Wet grassland with a short, bumpy, tussocky sward and bare patches is an important habitat for breeding birds, providing a source of food and closely linked opportunities for ground nesting. The Lapwing diet consists of worms and other soil surface invertebrates and they can sometimes be observed feeding at night under the gaze of a bright moon.

How Are They Doing? The Lapwing is Britain’s most widespread winter wading bird but this is a season when migrants from mainland Europe swell the ranks of the large flocks that form at this time of year. The number of breeding birds recorded in the UK during the spring and summer months is much less stable and has declined by around 60% since the 1970s. This was once a common bird of Shropshire farmland but the shift to autumn sown crops (which are too dense for birds to nest in by spring) and the improved drainage of formerly wet areas has helped contribute to a decline in the suitable ground conditions so vital to its fortunes. Lapwing chicks are particularly vulnerable to attack and the distance between nesting and feeding sites is critical, with shorter journeys providing less opportunity for potential predators to strike. Where these links are broken, maintaining a healthy population is that much harder because lapwing generally rear only one brood per season.

What’s In A Name? The word Lapwing (meaning ‘flicker with a leap in it’ in old English) is thought to derive from the bird’s distinctive flight pattern; its rounded wing tips and slow wing beat create a flickering effect when contrasted against its black and white plumage. Next time you’re out on the moors, have a look and see what you think? The onomatopoeic alternative name Peewit is much easier to discern, for it mimics the bird’s distinctive call, which can be heard regularly throughout the spring breeding season.

Numbers of breeding Lapwing have declined sharply since the 1970s (Jim Almond)
On the Weald Moors: the moorlands are home to the most significant population of breeding Lapwing in Shropshire, and among the most important sites for the bird in the entire West Midlands region. Wall Farm is the best place to see this enigmatic wader throughout the calendar year but good numbers of birds have also been recorded at Long Lane floods and on both Eyton and Crudgington Moor in recent times.


Weald Moors Habitat: Lowland Wet Grassland