Latin name: Vanellus vanellusalt

Length: 28 - 31cm Wingspan: 70 – 76cm

Where: Glen Dochart and other lower mountain slopes and upland farmland areas.

When: All year round, but best sightings in spring and early summer

A lapwing in flight is unmistakable once you learn to pick out its dark, paddle-round wings and bouncy way of flying. If you see them from a distance in fields and pasture land they look like small, jaunty black and white birds – but a closer look reveals metallic shimmers of dark green and magenta in their wings, and a feathery crest that quivers in the breeze. For most of the year they gather together, sometimes flying in tight flocks over the fields, flashing all white or all dark as they change direction as one.

In spring they sound as if they are whooping with happiness at the returning warmth. Their joyful calls fill the air as they perform their aerial mating displays. Pairs whirl, twist and dive together, sealing the bond between them before the female makes her nest in a scrape of ground. Their habit of nesting in arable fields has led to a steep decline in their numbers as more and more farmers plough or combine before the young have time to fledge. They can often be seen near water-logged fields or shallow, muddy pools.

If you see what looks like an injured bird as you walk through the fields in spring and summer don’t be too quick to call the vet. If the adult lapwing feels its nest or young are threatened it may try to distract an intruder by pretending to be injured, calling piteously or dragging its wing. This has led to the bird’s curious collective name – a ‘deceit’ of lapwings.

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