CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Essex Life today CLICK HERE

The plight of the Lapwing

PUBLISHED: 12:03 04 March 2016 | UPDATED: 12:03 04 March 2016

Lapwing feeding in a meadow by Chris Gomersall (

Lapwing feeding in a meadow by Chris Gomersall (


Find out more about the county’s bird life from the RSPB each month

Lapwing flock by Andy Hay ( flock by Andy Hay (

Lapwings are a charming and well-dressed wading bird, with a waistcoat of white adorning iridescent black, dark green and purple feathers. Also known as the pee-wit, because of their delicate high pitched call, they are resident to most of the UK throughout the year. They show particularly well in the spring time, after separating from their winter flocks to return to breeding grounds.

A male will display with a beautiful song flight; rolling, diving and singing to make his presence known to rival males and potential mates. Lapwings are such characters and it’s wonderful to watch them rise and fall in the sky. While nesting, lapwings choose spring-sown crops or rough grazing land with a body of water nearby. This allows for optimum viewing of their surroundings when incubating eggs, as well as providing them with the best possible opportunity to guide their chicks to water to forage on invertebrates once they have hatched. Lapwings tend to lay three to four eggs and spend around 26 to 28 days incubating them. Once hatched, the parents lead the chicks to the rearing habitat. This journey can be hazardous and having to travel further greatly increases the risk of chick mortality.

They could be taken by a predator or more likely succumb to the elements as their downy feathers make them vulnerable to cold and wet weather. Parents will stay with their young in a family group until they can fly, at around five to six weeks old. Lapwings will only raise one brood a year, but if unsuccessful they may try up to four times in a season.

At RSPB South Essex, lapwings can be seen in good numbers at several reserves, including Bowers Marsh, Vange Marsh and West Canvey Marsh. They have been known to breed very successfully on these sites too. However, this good fortune does not represent the struggle this species has faced throughout the UK in recent years. The lapwing has been given a red status, therefore considered of the highest conservation priority due to a staggering 80% drop in the species numbers since the 1960s. This is largely due to changes in farming practices reducing the availability of suitable nesting and rearing habitat.

Although all is not lost, it is possible to combat the issue with sympathetic farming methods, such as creating a mosaic of spring sown crops and grassland, managing grazing pasture and maintaining damp areas on unimproved grassland. Agri-environment schemes in each part of the UK provide grants to help landowners manage their land to help lapwings.

If you want to see lapwings but have never visited any of the RSPB reserves, why not pop to the RSPB South Essex Visitor Centre and Wildlife Garden in Wat Tyler Country Park, Pitsea? The friendly team can tell you how to get to the reserves and what else you could see out and about on a peaceful walk in these natural surroundings. Find out more at or call 01268 498620.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Essex Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Essex Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Essex Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 10:59

Michael Foley is the author of Secret Brentwood, a book which highlights the fascinating collection of historical treasures that have helped make this town the vibrant place it is today. Here Michael shares some of the those treasures with Essex Life readers

Read more
Yesterday, 10:33

Take a stroll around the attractive village of Colne Engaine following part of the River Colne from where the village gets its name | Words and photos: Laurie Page Public Rights of Way Team at Essex County Council

Read more
Yesterday, 09:34

Christmas in Essex has something for everyone with an irresistible combination of modern and traditional. Here are 21 reasons why Essex is the best place to spend your Christmas

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Essex is home to some of the most stunning vistas in the UK. From the estuary of River Thames to the North Sea coastline, the county’s scenery is a diverse patchwork of stunning sea views, ancient architecture and vibrant gardens. We pick 9 of our favourites

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

When winter comes and a frost settles all over our county’s prettiest locations, you’re presented with so many fantastic photographic opportunities. Here are 19 times Essex was prettier than a Christmas card

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Are you stuck for things to do this winter? Essex is home to some truly magical places perfect for a family day out or a special event to get you feeling festive. Here are 9 locations you have to visit this season.

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The history and heritage of our county’s historic homes is not only contained within their walls but it also stretches out into the land surrounding it. We’ve found 11 great walks that allow you to experience that history first hand

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Of all Britain’s coastal counties, Essex can surely claim to be one of the best. With more than 350 miles of shoreline to choose from, the Essex coast is very much what you make of it, so even on those days when you’re planning a little run out to the seaside and want more than just the beach, Essex has the answer

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

We’ve put together 15 questions that will push your knowledge of Essex to the limit - let us know how you’ve done on social media!

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

From James Bond to Batman, Essex has been known to bask in a little Hollywood glitz. Here are 19 that have used our county’s incredible locations on the big screen

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search