The breeding season is now in full swing at Beckingham and we are on course to have one of the best yet (hopefully!), with lapwings looking like they are so far, doing very well. We have 10-11 pairs on site, however they have between them a minimum of 20 chicks, many of these looking rather big and it won't be long before we are seeing the first fledge.
Lapwings typically lay four eggs, however good productivity (the number of young fledged per pair) is usually only considered to be around 0.6! Our birds did very well last year, fledging 1 chick per pair, so this year we are hopeful that they can top that. The addition of our anti-predator fence has made a huge difference, providing protection for the young from terrestrial predators.
Our wet grassland at Beckingham is managed specially for lapwings and other lowland breeding waders. To do this we need a short grass sward in the spring (April), cattle to graze the grassland to keep it short(ish!) throughout the season and high water levels into June/July when the chicks fledge. The short grass enables the adult birds to sit on their nests and look out for predators and the high water levels ensure there are plenty of invertebrates at or near the surface for both the adult and young lapwings to feed on.
In other news, we still have a pair of redshank on site, a pair of oystercatcher seem to have taken up residence and the wet scrapes on field 9 (the one with the viewing screen) are teeming with wildfowl, many of the mallard, gadwall and shoveler pairs also have young in tow.
Look out too for the two pairs of roe deer on site – a pair have been seen regularly within the fenced area in front of the viewing screen and another in the large field behind it. Beautiful animals and great to see them making Beckingham their home.
Beckingham is full of lapwing chicks at the moment! Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
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