This article has been submitted by Diana Howarth
I have been monitoring bird species on my regular walks across Bengeo Field and have noted that this year there have been at least two pairs of Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) in the north western part of the field. Also known as the peewit, this striking bird with a distinctive crest usually appears in large flocks, but has been in recent decline.
The uncultivated area of stony ground with low covering of vegetation in the highest part of the field is an ideal habitat for these ground nesting birds. They lay their eggs, looking like stones, in a small scrape on the ground where they are camouflaged from predators. The fluffy striped chicks run around and learn to sit still when the crows are about making them almost invisible. At least one pair have bred four chicks successfully and reared them into strongly growing juveniles. I last saw these juveniles and the breeding pair on Friday 23rd June.
Lapwings are a threatened species and are listed in the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for UK Birds because numbers have declined over 80% since 1960. The Red List is an assessment based on the most up-to-date evidence available and criteria include conservation status at global and European levels and, within the UK: historical decline, trends in population and range, rarity, localised distribution and international importance.
In addition, I am pleased to say that the skylarks have bred successfully and now number more than 12 in all.
We must not lose an important habitat such as Bengeo Field.