Lapwing – 2003-07 breeding

Vanellus vanellus – CORNCHWIGLEN – Breeding resident and winter visitor

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed113
Breeding probable70
Breeding possible101
No of tetrads occupied28 (of 478)4 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads5.9%0.8%

In winter they can appear in flocks of several hundred to a few thousand and occur widely across farmland and coastal habitats. The number of pairs attempting to breed in Pembrokeshire has continued to decline over the last 20 years, continuing a trend noted in Donovan and Rees (1994).

Lapwing distribution, as indicated by the number of tetrads in which they were found, fell by a massive 86%, between 1984-88 and 2003-07, reflecting the significance of the overall decline in the breeding population. All atlas categories declined by large amounts. Breeding numbers are also declining in many other parts of Britain, and they are red-listed in the Birds of Conservation Concern 3 (Eaton et al., 2009).

The BBS index indicated a UK-wide decline of 18% between 1994 and 2007, but there were insufficient 1km squares sampled to give a Wales index for the species.  

It was estimated that there were around 70 pairs in Pembrokeshire during 1984-88. During 2003 – 2007 the maximum recorded breeding population in any one year was only 14 pairs, in 2003, with between about nine and 12 breeding pairs recorded each year subsequently, a decline of between 80 and 87%.

One or two pairs have attempted to breed on the Castlemartin peninsula, but recently the entire population has been more or less split between two key breeding centres at Ramsey Island and the old dismantled BP oil tank farm at Kilpaison. Ringing of nestlings by the Pembrokeshire Ringing Group at the latter site is showing that some young are surviving and returning in later years, possibly to breed in the same area.

Management of their breeding habitat is being carried out by the RSPB on Ramsey; this includes minimising potential disturbance from visitors to the island. Recent attempts by the RSPB to help create suitable arable conditions in the Castlemartin Corse/Broomhill Burrows area have, so far, failed to attract the birds to stay and breed successfully here.  

Bob Haycock (BTO rep & Chairman of the Pembs Bird Group)

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports, which may contain more detail than shown here.

EATON. M. A, BROWN. A. F, NOBLE. D. G, MUSGROVE. A.J, HEARN. R. D, AEBISCHER. N.J, GIBBONS. D. W, EVANS. A, GREGORY. R. D. 2009. Birds of Conservation Concern 3, British Birds, 102, 296-341

More about the Lapwing in Pembrokeshire

Lapwing – 1994

Vanellus vanellus – CORNCHWIGLEN – Breeding resident and winter visitor

1984-88
Breeding confirmed11
Breeding probable7
Breeding possible10
No of tetrads occupied28 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads5.9%

“Resident, one of our commonest birds, nesting in most districts of the county” wrote Mathew in 1894. “Common in suitable moors and wet grounds, although somewhat local in distribution” commented Lockley et al. (1949), who also stated “breeds on the islands”. Lloyd’s diaries record nesting on the islands of Ramsey, Skokholm and Skomer and in many places on the mainland, ranging from over 35 pairs at Castle Martin Corse and 30 pairs in the boggy ground behind St Govan’s Head to smaller scattered groups further north, as at Dowrog, Strumble Head and in the Preseli Mountains at Rosebush and Maenclochog, and at just a few areas in the east such as Ludchurch Common and Carnary.

Lapwings began to decrease thereafter, so that Lockley (1961) was moved to comment that “the number of breeding birds has declined, principally due to high farming and the drainage of marshy fields”. This process has continued and many commons have also ceased to be suitable because reduced grazing by cattle, and possibly rabbits, has permitted invasion by rank growth and scrub. A general increase in numbers of foxes and crows may also have been an important factor. Saunders (1976) assessed the Lapwing as breeding “sparsely throughout the county”. It is now confined to a few largely coastal areas, and the total population can be accurately estimated at 70 pairs, over half of them on Ramsey Island.

The Lapwing is much more numerous and widespread in the winter, particularly on the wet pastures of the coastal belt where flocks of 200-400 birds are seen frequently. Birds begin to arrive from July, when small parties of mixed adults and juveniles can be encountered flying overland from the north-east, but the bulk arrive at night during October and November. Departure, during March and April, is rapid and at this time they have been seen flying over the Smalls from the direction of Ireland and have been detected by radar departing north-eastwards at night from the mainland of Pembrokeshire (Johnson 1969).

Cold winter weather in the east drives many additional Lapwings to Pembrokeshire. Should the county remain unfrozen they stay, but otherwise many pass on to the south and west; for example 1,150 passed over the Smalls towards Ireland in such conditions in February 1983.  Ringing recoveries have shown that some arrive in Pembrokeshire from north-west Europe and that locally-bred birds move down to winter in Iberia.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

JOHNSON, A.L. 1969. Radar observations of bird migrants in south-west Wales. Nature in Wales I I: 121-125.

LOCKLEY R. M. 1961. The south-west peninsula. Nature in Wales 7: 124-133

SAUNDERS, D.R. 1976. A brief guide to the birds of Pembrokeshire. Five Arches Press

More about the Lapwing in Pembrokeshire

Lapwing – 1980s winter

Vanellus vanellus – CORNCHWIGLEN – Breeding resident and winter visitor

The BTO winter atlas showed that Lapwings were present in most 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84.

The darker the colour, the higher the relative total count for each 10km square, the darkest blue represents over 1,500 birds.

Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007

Data collected by volunteers for the BTO. Lack, P. 1986 Atlas of wintering birds in Britain and Ireland. T & A.D. Poyser.

More about Lapwing in Pembrokeshire

Lapwing – 1894

Vanellus vulgaris – Resident.

The well-known Lapwing is one of our commonest birds, nesting in most districts of the county, and to be seen commonly in large flocks in the autumn and winter. In the bitter spring of 1886 numbers perished, and were to be found lying dead by the frozen drains in most of the meadows. We had many about our garden, and placed food for them on the paths, barley-meal, &c, but they would not touch it. We used to watch them from our windows running on the lawn, and stopping with a jerk every few paces to listen (like a thrush) for the movement of any worm beneath the frozen ground.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Lapwing in Pembrokeshire

Lapwing

Vanellus vanellus – CORNCHWIGLEN – Breeding resident and winter visitor

Lapwing – WeBS 2020-21

The latest figures from the Wetland Bird Survey in Pembrokeshire – totals from all count sites.

Lapwing – 2003-07 breeding

Vanellus vanellus – CORNCHWIGLEN – Breeding resident and winter visitor Comparison with previous atlas: 1984-88 2003-07 Breeding confirmed 11 3 Breeding probable 7 0 Breeding possible 10 1 No of tetrads occupied 28 (of 478) 4 (of 490) Percentage of tetrads 5.9% 0.8% In winter they can appear in flocks of several hundred to a […]

Lapwing – 1994

Vanellus vanellus – CORNCHWIGLEN – Breeding resident and winter visitor 1984-88 Breeding confirmed 11 Breeding probable 7 Breeding possible 10 No of tetrads occupied 28 (of 478) Percentage of tetrads 5.9% “Resident, one of our commonest birds, nesting in most districts of the county” wrote Mathew in 1894. “Common in suitable moors and wet grounds, […]

Lapwing – 1980s winter

Vanellus vanellus – CORNCHWIGLEN – Breeding resident and winter visitor The BTO winter atlas showed that Lapwings were present in most 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84. The darker the colour, the higher the relative total count for each 10km square, the darkest blue represents over 1,500 birds. More about Lapwing in Pembrokeshire

Lapwing – 1968-72 breeding

Red = breeding confirmed Orange = breeding probable Yellow = breeding possible More about the Lapwing in Pembrokeshire

Lapwing – 1949

Species account from the Birds of Pembrokeshire, 1949, by Lockley, Ingram and Salmon.

Lapwing – 1894

Vanellus vulgaris – Resident. The well-known Lapwing is one of our commonest birds, nesting in most districts of the county, and to be seen commonly in large flocks in the autumn and winter. In the bitter spring of 1886 numbers perished, and were to be found lying dead by the frozen drains in most of the meadows. We had […]