During early Spring 2018 I had the chance to follow the breeding story of Lapwings for BBC Springwatch. I shot this material for a 5 minute film, part of episode 2 of the series.
Featured above is a short edit featuring some of that footage.
Set on the uplands of the Yorkshire Dales, Lapwings breed across open moor and on farmland. This dazzling wader has faced insurmountable challenges over the past few decades, but they cling on in this corner of the Pennines, raising chicks against all odds.
During the course of the breeding season I captured the elaborate courtship displays of the Lapwing, attempting to impress potential mates . These elaborate tumbling displays and aerial battles punctuated scrape-building and territory defence by the Lapwing pairs. I then followed birds nesting on both moorland and farmland, experiencing the highs and lows associated with breeding on each habitat. The aim of the shoot was to capture confrontation between the farmland nesters and their livestock neighbours, fighting sheep away as they tried to steal a quick meal. Thankful families were raised on both sides of the wall, a testament to the diligence of the parents.
I feel very lucky to have spent time with a species in such dire straits in the UK, experiencing the highs and lows of their breeding season first hand.
I have to say a massive thank you to all of the Springwatch team for putting the film together, I'm really grateful to have worked with such a great team once again and got the chance to show off one of Britain's most underrated wading birds!
The Lapwing is a medium sized wading bird, also known as the "Peewit" or "Green plover". This iridescent wader breeds northern Eurasia, with a wide distribution into South Asia and north Africa during winter. It is a resident in the UK, across farmland and upland habitats, spending the winter on the coast. The population of wintering Lapwing is bolstered by large numbers of European birds, these individuals leave in March for their breeding grounds on the continent.
Lapwing are known for their distinctive call and flickering flight, owing to their black and white wing plumage. They spend much of the winter in vast flocks, feeding in shallow water, on marshes and intertidal areas, often associating with Golden plover. Come Spring many of the UK's Lapwing head to the hills in search of safe nesting. Although traditionally thought of as a farmland bird their numbers have plummeted in the lowlands, with the uplands a remaining stronghold. Declines have still been felt here, with the Lapwing listed as a red-list species in the UK.