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Lapwing

Last updated: 01 February 2011

In this clip Iolo Williams visits Malltraeth Marsh on Anglesey - one of the main reserves in Wales to see flocks of lapwing.

The birds have unusual shaped wings which are broader at the tip than at the body, enabling them to perform fantastic aerial displays which definitely give marsh harriers a run for their money.

This distinctive resident farmland wading-bird was once a common sight in the UK, but in the last 40 years, lapwing numbers have declined by about 80% in England and Wales.

During the breeding season, from February until June, male lapwings put on an impressive acrobatic display to attract the ladies.

As the birds tumble and roll through the sky you'll see flashes of their largely black and white plumage.

Listen out for the distinctive 'peewit' call, which gives the bird its nickname.

In the breeding season you're most likely to see lapwings on fields with spring-sown cereals, root crops, pasture, meadows and fallow fields.

These provide areas with the bare soil they need to prepare their nest, which is essentially a scrape or depression in the ground lined with plant material, and food for the chicks when they hatch.

During flight, the alternating white then black of the flapping wings may have given the bird its name which derives from the Old English word 'hleapewince', which means 'leap with a flicker in it'.


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