We are very lucky on Otmoor to have a very healthy breeding population of lapwings. These iconic birds have suffered from changes in agriculture, land drainage, building on flood plains and global warming. In fact in England numbers have declined by 37% since 1982. Because of this, these birds are lucky to have Otmoor available to them as a protected haven. We put a lot of effort into getting conditions just right on the moor for them, making sure the grass is the right length, making sure water levels are at the right depth, making sure there are bare muddy areas feeding areas next to shallow water and making sure there aren’t too many tall trees for perching in around the grassland fields to make things difficult for avian predators.
Things have been a bit delayed this year due to the cold weather but we are pleased to say that the lapwings, or green plover, or peewits, or hornywinks (!?) as they’re sometimes known, have started their egg laying for the year. As part of our monitoring work we use cameras on some of the nests to see what happens (good or bad) to the chicks. You may well see us out in the fields setting these up. Monitoring how well the lapwings are doing is very important, as one of our core target species if they are doing well it tells us that we must be doing a good job and that our management work is working.
Finding lapwing nests can be very tricky, as when on their nest they can be well camouflaged, they also often nest a long way from our observation points and thoughtfully fly off the nest before you get too close. In order to find the nests out in the field you end up getting very good at remembering exactly which grass tussock the bird was sitting next to when you saw it through the telescope.
I’ve included a few pictures below showing how well camouflaged the lapwing eggs are, what the nest camera set up looks like and the sort of pictures we get back from them.
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