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Post Info TOPIC: Species in Focus - Lapwing.

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RE: Species in Focus - Lapwing.

Saw my first Lapwing chick of the year at Trub SD80Z on 2nd May thus confirming breeding for this square. So worth checking in other squares where we need to confirm breeding.


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This large, vocal, highly visible and charismatic wader would surely be placed amongst the top ten of most birders favourite birds. Therefore, it is a crying crying.gif shame to regularly read accounts of its long-term decline in breeding numbers in the UK and for that fall in numbers thought to be primarily linked to mans' activities - namely changes in modern day agricultural practices. But in Greater Manchester the Lapwing isn't wholly associated as a breeding bird with farmland, be it on ploughed fields, amongst crops or on short pasture. It can also be found in lesser numbers breeding on the roof tops of units on industrial estates, at sewage works and even on inner city wastelands and/or building sites where development is temporarily in abeyance. Indeed, at these latter types of locations the Lapwing might be surprisingly successful, with many of these sites fenced off and free from human disturbance and also from ground predators such as foxes.

At the time of our last atlas project, Breeding Birds in Greater Manchester (BBGM 1979- 1983), this species occupied 274 (84%) of the available tetrads and breeding was confirmed in 207 of these. We are now three-quarters of the way through our current atlas project and the data available at the end of the 2010 breeding season suggests we are going to fall some way short of these earlier atlas totals. Confirmed breeding was reported from 87 tetrads, which represents just 42% of the BBGM figure. These figures might not be that great a surprise, given this species decline but are we really doing all that we can to pick up evidence of this species breeding activities?

Lapwing is amongst one of our earlier breeding species and birders should easily be able to familiarise themselves as to where territories are being established by watching the thrilling sight of the adult males vocal, tumbling display flight in early spring. The Lapwing's clutch, which is usually of 4 eggs, is laid in a shallow scrape on the ground, sometimes even as early as late March. This species is usually single brooded, although replacement clutches will be laid to replace any earlier losses. Incubation is usually between 22 to 30 days (BTO Nest Record Scheme).....so plenty of time for us to try and catch sight of an adult bird sitting on a nest! nod.gif If we do see a bird in suitable habitat looking like it might be sitting on a nest and if it is at all possible, we could always check back a short while later, to see if it is still sitting in the same spot and then breeding could be confirmed using the code ON (occupied nest). A quick refresher on all breeding codes can be found here. When the young hatch they are nidifugous and precocial - in very simple terms meaning that they leave the nest quickly and become mobile and self-feeding chew.gif although they remain reliant on the adult birds for protection, shelter and warmth. At this time adult birds become even more vocal and visible in defence of their young, which will remain flightless for another 31 to 42 days (BTO Nest Record Scheme) and this is probably the easiest phase of this species breeding life cycle in which to confirm breeding. A bit of time and patience scanning the ground when we see and hear a pair of agitated adults and we will hopefully be blessed by the sighting of their really beautiful chicks.aww.gif A very nice reward for our efforts! biggrin.gif

A précis of the data from the first three years of our local atlas underlines much of the above. Adults observed sitting on occupied nests accounted for 27% of all confirmed breeding records. These occupied nests were reported between an early date of 4th April and a late date of 17th June; with 63% of all records of this kind logged in the month of April. As suggested though, the largest percentage (59%) of confirmed breeding records was for observations of small flightless young. Early and late dates for this particular category were 20th April and 27th July respectively, with the peak months for records being May (41%) and June (38%).

Still not had time yet to register for the last year of our atlas project? Then we need to go to the following page http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/birdatlas and towards the top left there is an area highlighted in green saying "Register". The registration page is very quick, easy and straightforward to complete.nod.gifnod.gif You will need to note down your username (provided by the system) and password (your choice) which are upper case sensitive I think. Once registered and accepted then it is a simple task to sign on to our atlas project using another green button on the very same atlas homepage - this should show as "Login" and then we will be able to enter our observations of breeding Lapwings as roving records via this route.

Good luck and many thanks for your help. thumbsup.gif

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