Tuesday 26 February 2013

Wader Quest species seen noº 3: Northern Lapwing

Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

Bangor, Gwynedd, Wales.

1st November 2012. Titchwell RSPB reserve, Norfolk England. 

We really thought this would be the first bird on the Wader Quest list being as how we had to drive across 100 miles of rural England, but sadly we did not encounter any flocks reminding us that even common birds such as this are declining in numbers. It is for this that Wader Quest exists in the first place. We eventually found a single bird sitting on a small island on the fresh marsh.

This species breeds across Europe and Asia wintering in Europe the Middle East, parts of west Asia and east Asia. It is a monotypic species. They are permanent residents in the UK with numbers swelling with birds coming from the north in winter, when large flocks can often be encountered (except when you are looking for them!).

It has a population of around 5.2  to 10 million individuals. The overall population trend is decreasing moderately in Europe. Whilst it is not scientific nor quantifiable my personal experience suggests that there are fewer flocks to be found in the UK countryside in recent years.

Birdlife International (2013) Species factsheet: Vanellus vanellus. Downloaded from on 29/01/2013.

Titchwell RSPB reserve, Norfolk, England.

Part of a flock of 200 with Golden Plovers: Roade, Northamptonshire,

Part of a mixed flock including 400+ Lapwing: Stoke Bruerne,
Northamptonshire, England.
Cley NNT reserve, Norfolk, England.
From a more personal perspective, Northern Lapwing was the species that was responsible for my budding interest in birds when I was still a young boy. I opened a book called BIRDS and their nests and flicked through the pages, I saw many familiar species such as you'd expect to see in a suburban garden, but when I turned to page 42 I came across 'The Lapwing' and immediately felt I needed to see one and soon. The rest as they say is history.

Front cover of BIRDS and their nests: Longacre Press Ltd. London. (1962)

Illustration opposite p42. The Lapwing: Longacre Press Ltd. London. (1962)

If you want to know more about Rick's birding life my forthcoming book Confessions of a Bird Guide will reveal all, well almost all! (Due April 2013; initial enquiries to

For more information on Northern Lapwing see:

Birdlife International species factsheet:

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