The National Biodiversity Data Centre have collaborated with BirdWatch Ireland for Project Lapwing. Project Lapwing is asking citizen scientists from around the country to submit records of breeding Lapwing in an effort to update our knowledge of Lapwing breeding distribution and density. Lapwing is one of many ground-nesting birds that have suffered a population decline in recent years. Details of the survey can be found at Birdwatch Ireland’s website https://birdwatchireland.ie/our-work/surveys-research/research-surveys/project-lapwing/
Benefits of Lapwing to farmers
Lapwings mostly eat insects including feeding on wireworms and leatherjackets. Wireworms are a grassland pest and potatoes are particularly susceptible to wireworms by reducing the quality by burrowing into tubers. Leatherjacks are a pest of cereals and broadleaf crops which feed at the soil surface and cut off the plant at ground level.
The Lapwing is a distinct wader, it has a long thin wispy crest extending upwards from back of its head with broad rounded wings and a short tail. At close range, you will be able to see a green/purple iridescence with pinkish legs.
During the winter, you will see Lapwings in large flocks but by mid-March, they are back on their breeding grounds. They breed on open farmland, and appear to prefer nesting in fields that are relatively bare (particularly when cultivated in the spring) and adjacent to grass.
Status in Ireland
In the most recent review of the status of birds in Ireland (Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland 4: 2020–2026), the Lapwing is a Red-listed species meaning that it is of high conservation concern. The most recent Bird Atlas reported a 53% decrease in breeding range in the last 40 years. Numbers at previous strongholds such as the Shannon Callows have declined by more than 80% in recent decades.
If you see a Lapwing and are confident of its identification, please submit details to Ireland’s Citizen Science Portal