Northern lapwing

The northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), also known as the peewit or pewit, tuit or tew-it, green plover, or (in Britain and Ireland) just lapwing, is a bird in the lapwing family. It is common through temperate Eurasia.

It is highly migratory over most of its extensive range, wintering further south as far as north Africa, northern India, Pakistan, and parts of China. It migrates mainly by day, often in large flocks. Lowland breeders in westernmost areas of Europe are resident. It occasionally is a vagrant to North America, especially after storms, as in the Canadian sightings after storms in December 1927 and in January 1966.[3]

It is a wader that breeds on cultivated land and other short vegetation habitats. 3–4 eggs are laid in a ground scrape. The nest and young are defended noisily and aggressively against all intruders, up to and including horses and cattle.

In winter, it forms huge flocks on open land, particularly arable land and mud-flats.

Northern lapwing
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Charadriidae
Genus: Vanellus
V. vanellus
Binomial name
Vanellus vanellus
Northern Lapwing
Global map of sightings reported on eBird     Year-Round Range     Summer Range     Winter Range

Tringa vanellus Linnaeus, 1758 Vanellus cristatus Meyer[2] Vanellus vulgaris Bechstein[2]

Birds of Sweden 2016 45
Alarmed in flowery meadow on Texel, the Netherlands


The name lapwing has been variously attributed to the "lapping" sound its wings make in flight, from the irregular progress in flight due to its large wings (the Oxford English Dictionary derives this from an Old English word meaning "to totter"),[4] or from its habit of drawing potential predators away from its nest by trailing a wing as if broken. The names peewit, pewit, tuit or tew-it are onomatopaeic and refer to the bird's characteristic call.[5]

The scientific name Vanellus is Medieval Latin for the northern lapwing and derives from vannus a winnowing fan.[6]


The northern lapwing is a 28–33 cm (11–13 in) long bird with a 67–87 cm (26–34 in) wingspan and a body mass of 128–330 g (4.5–11.6 oz).[7] It has rounded wings and a crest. It is also the shortest-legged of the lapwings. It is mainly black and white, but the back is tinted green. The male has a long crest and a black crown, throat and breast contrasting with an otherwise white face. Females and young birds have shorter crests, and have less strongly marked heads, but plumages are otherwise quite similar.

Display calls, Surrey, England

This is a vocal bird in the breeding season, with constant calling as the crazed tumbling display flight is performed by the male. The typical contact call is a loud, shrill "pee-wit" from which they get their other name of peewit.[4] Displaying males usually make a wheezy "pee-wit, wit wit, eeze wit" during their display flight, these birds also make squeaking or mewing sounds.

It feeds primarily on insects and other small invertebrates. This species often feeds in mixed flocks with golden plovers and black-headed gulls, the latter often robbing the two plovers, but providing a degree of protection against predators.

Like the golden plovers, this species prefers to feed at night when there is moonlight.

The northern lapwing is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

Population decline

Vanellus vanellus -Rotterdam Zoo, Netherlands -chick-8a
Chick in the Netherlands
Vanellus vanellus MHNT
Egg – MHNT

National surveys of England and Wales have shown a population decline between 1987 and 1998, and since 2009 the northern lapwing has had red list conservation status in the United Kingdom.[8] The numbers of this species have been adversely affected by intensive agricultural techniques. In the lowlands this includes the loss of rough grassland, conversion to arable or improved grassland, loss of mixed farms, and switch from spring- to autumn-sown crops. In the uplands, the losses may have been due to increases in grazing density. Natural England gives grant aid to help restore lapwing habitat within its Environmental Stewardship Scheme. The organisation suggests an option within this scheme called 'Fallow plots for ground-nesting birds'. Uncropped plots at least 2 ha (4.9 acres) in size provide nesting habitat and are located in suitable arable fields, which provide additional foraging habitat. Locating the plots within 2 km (1.2 mi) of extensively grazed grassland will provide additional foraging habitat. The plots are cultivated in the spring to produce a rough fallow, which is retained without the input of fertiliser or pesticides.[9] In addition to agricultural intensification and land-use change, predation of nests and chicks contributes to wader declines, including of lapwing. By radio-tagging lapwing chicks, and using automatic radio tracking systems, the timing of chick predation can be revealed, which provides additional insights in to the importance of different predators. Lapwing chicks are predated both in the day and at night, with mammalian predators having the greatest impact.[10]

In Armenia, the population decline and loss of breeding habitats was also documented; the threats are thought to be intensification of land use and hunting, but further investigations for threat clarification are required.[11]

Cultural significance

Harvesting eggs

"Plover's eggs" were an expensive delicacy in Victorian Europe, mentioned in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, about aristocratic British society in 1920–40. In the Netherlands, there is a cultural-historical competition to find the first peewit egg of the year (het eerste kievietsei). It is especially popular in the province Friesland, but there are also regional competitions. Gathering peewit eggs is prohibited by the European Union, but Friesland was granted an exception for cultural-historical reasons. The Frisian exception was removed in 2005 by a court, which determined that the Frisian executive councillors had not properly followed procedure.[12][13] As of 2006 looking for peewit eggs is permitted between 1 March and 9 April, though harvesting the eggs is now forbidden. In 2008 the first egg was found on 3 March, in Eemnes, Utrecht,[14] and the first egg of 2009 was found on 8 March.[15] Over the last century, the first peewit egg has been found earlier and earlier in the year. This is ascribed to both increased use of fertiliser and climate change, causing the growth of grass needed for egg laying to occur earlier.[16]


The bird referred to in English translations of Ovid's Metamorphoses, book 6, as lapwing[17] is probably the northern lapwing. Tereus is turned into an epops (6.674); Ovid presumably had the hoopoe in mind, whose crest indicates his royal status and whose long, sharp beak is a symbol of his violent nature.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2017). "Vanellus vanellus (amended version of 2016 assessment)". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2017: e.T22693949A111044786. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-1.RLTS.T22693949A111044786.en. Downloaded on 15 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b Vanellus vanellus in UK Species Inventory (access-date 2019-06-05).
  3. ^ Godfrey, W. Earl (1986). The Birds of Canada (Revised ed.). National Museum of Natural Sciences. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-660-10758-5.
  4. ^ a b "Lapwing". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ "Peewit". Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  6. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 397. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  7. ^ "Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus". oiseaux-birds].
  8. ^ British Trust for Ornithology - Lapwing
  9. ^ "Lapwings thrive on fallow plots". BTO News (269): 17. March–April 2007.
  10. ^ Mason, L. R.; Smart, J.; Drewitt, A. L. (2018). "Tracking day and night provides insights into the relative importance of different wader chick predators". Ibis. 160 (1): 71–88. doi:10.1111/ibi.12523.
  11. ^ "Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus in Armenia". Armenian Bird Census, TSE NGO].
  12. ^ Walinga, Ruurd (17 March 2005). "Dertig jaar juridische strijd om kievitseieren" [Thirty year legal battle for plover's eggs] (in Dutch). Friesch Dagblad. Retrieved 19 February 2009.
  13. ^ Stichting De Faunabescherming and Nederlandse Vereniging tot bescherming van Vogels vs. het college van gedeputeerde staten van Fryslân, LJN: AT0660, Rechtbank Leeuwarden, 03/518 BESLU & 03/547 BESLU (Rechtbank Leeuwarden 16 March 2005).
  14. ^ "Eerste kievitsei van 2008 gevonden" [First plover egg of 2008 found] (in Dutch). Nederlandse Omroep Stichting. 3 March 2008. Archived from the original on 10 March 2008. Retrieved 19 February 2009.
  15. ^ "Dutch spring heralded by lapwing egg". Radio Netherlands / Expatica. 8 March 2009. Retrieved 9 March 2009.
  16. ^ "Vinddatum eerste kievitsei in Friesland" [Dates of Discovery of the First Plover's Eggs in Friesland] (in Dutch). Milieu & Natuurcompendium. 6 June 2008. Retrieved 19 February 2009.
  17. ^ Garth, Sir Samuel; Dryden, John; et al. "'Metamorphoses' by Ovid".

External links

Armash Important Bird Area

The Armash Important Bird Area (also known as Armash Fishponds) is an area of wetland near the town of Armash, in Armenia, in the foothills of Mount Ararat, and on the border with Turkey, and near the borders with Iran and Nakhchivan (an exclave of Azerbaijan). It is designated as an "Emerald Site" wildlife refuge since 2016. The 4,639 ha. site includes 1,514 ha. of ponds used for farming carp, fed by artesian wells and an irrigation canal from the Araks River.234 bird species have been recorded on the site, with 93 of them breeding. It is the only place in Armenia where White-headed Duck, White-tailed Lapwing, and Kentish Plover have been recorded as breeding. Other notable species present include Marbled Teal, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Northern Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Turtle Dove, and Pallid Harrier, all of which are globally threatened, as well as Savi's Warbler,, Glossy Ibis, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, White-winged Tern, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Lesser Short-toed Lark, and European Roller.It is one of eighteen Important Bird Areas in Armenia.

Black-headed lapwing

The black-headed lapwing or black-headed plover (Vanellus tectus) is a large lapwing, a group of largish waders in the family Charadriidae. It is a resident breeder across sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Ethiopia, although it has seasonal movements. It lays two or three eggs on a ground scrape.

These are conspicuous and unmistakable birds. They are medium-large waders with a black head other than a white forehead, lower face and bands across the rear head and nape. There is a wispy black crest like northern lapwing and the bill and legs are red. The tail is white, tipped black.

In flight, the black-headed lapwing's upperwings have black flight feathers and brown coverts separated by a white bar. The underwings are white with black flight feathers.

This species is a common breeder in wet lowland habitats close to water. It often feeds in drier habitats, such as golf courses and grassy scrub, picking insects and other invertebrates from the ground.

The black-headed lapwing has a metallic tink-tink call.

Gamla Varberg

Gamla Varberg (Swedish: "Old Varberg") is a nature reserve in Varberg Municipality, Sweden. It was established in 1966.

The nature reserve consists of a hill with the same name and the surrounding area. It is located at the Kattegat. From the top of the hill, there is a beautiful view over the sea and the island Balgö. In earlier times, the hill worked as a beacon hill. On the top, there is a cairn from the Bronze Age.

For a long time, Gamla Varberg and its surroundings was a grazed outfield. In the area, there were only a few homesteads. In the 1950s, junipers began to grow in the area. In the 1990s, the junipers were removed and the landscape restored.

On the heathland at Gamla Varberg, there are species like devils-bit scabious, wild thyme, Pedicularis sylvatica, and marsh gentian. On the shore meadow at Kattegat, there are Armeria maritima, Trifolium fragiferum, shore arrowgrass, and Salicornia europaea. Inside the nature reserve, there are birds like the northern lapwing, common redshank, and Eurasian oystercatcher.

Groene Hart

The Groene Hart (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈxrunə ˈhɑrt], Green Heart) is a relatively thinly populated area in the Dutch Randstad. The major Dutch cities of Rotterdam, The Hague, Leiden, Haarlem, Amsterdam and Utrecht lie around this area. Cities inside the Groene Hart include Zoetermeer, Alphen aan den Rijn, Gouda, Woerden and the smaller cities of Schoonhoven, Oudewater, Haastrecht, Nieuwkoop, Montfoort, Waddinxveen, Bodegraven and Boskoop.

The Groene Hart is characterized by its rural character which contrasts the urban areas around it. Agriculture, nature and recreation are the primary activities in the Groene Hart. Residents and urban visitors can often find rest and many green spaces. Mills, dikes and Dutch cows are the primary landmarks of this lowland area. Because of the various separated cycle paths in the Groene Hart, the area can very well be explored by bike. The Groene Hart is of major importance to consolidate the number of Dutch meadow birds. The bird species black-tailed godwit, northern lapwing, and Eurasian oystercatcher can all be found in the area.

HMS Lapwing (1911)

HMS Lapwing was an Acheron-class destroyer of the Royal Navy that served during World War I and was sold for breaking in 1921. She was the seventh Royal Navy ship to be named after Vanellus vanellus, the northern lapwing.

Ingrebourne Marshes

Ingrebourne Marshes are a 74.8 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Hornchurch in the London Borough of Havering. Ingrebourne Valley Local Nature Reserve includes a small part of the SSSI west of the River Ingrebourne. The site is managed by the Essex Wildlife TrustThe Marshes run along both sides of the river, the northern portion next to Hornchurch Country Park and stretching south to Rainham. This is almost all closed to the public, but part of it can be viewed from the Park. A long narrow strip stretches east from the river to Berwick Pond Road, incorporating Berwick Pond, a reservoir which is used for fishing. This is open to the public. The site also includes an irrigation reservoir east of Berwick Pond Road.The site is the largest area of freshwater marsh in Greater London. It is very diverse, with large areas of reed sweet-grass, common reed swamp, wet neutral grassland and tall fen. These habitats have a wide variety of invertebrates and breeding birds. Invertebrates include sixteen nationally scarce fly, beetle dragonfly and cricket species. There are two nationally rare Red Data Book species, the hoverfly Anasimyia interpuncta and the scarce emerald damselfly Lestes dryas. 61 species of bird regularly breed on the site, such as the common redshank and the northern lapwing. Common cuckoos exploit the nests of reed warblers and sedge warblers. Havering Council has raised the water level and reintroduced grazing to protect the wetland.Access to the site is from Hornchurch Country Park and Berwick Pond Road.

Jacques Van Impe

Jacques Van Impe (born January 15, 1941) is a Belgian academic widely published in the field of ornithology. His research is particularly focused on reproduction in the greater white-fronted goose, the bean goose (Anser fabalis rossicus), the Eurasian oystercatcher, the pied avocet, the northern lapwing, the black-tailed godwit, and the common redshank.


Vanellinae are any of various crested plovers, family Charadriidae, noted for its slow, irregular wingbeat in flight and a shrill, wailing cry. Its length is 10–16 inches. They are a subfamily of medium-sized wading birds which also includes the plovers and dotterels. The Vanellinae are collectively called lapwings but also contain the ancient red-kneed dotterel. A lapwing can be thought of as a larger plover.

The traditional terms "plover", "lapwing" and "dotterel" were coined long before modern understandings of the relationships between different groups of birds emerged: in consequence, several of the Vanellinae are still often called "plovers", and the reverse also applies, albeit more rarely, to some Charadriinae (the "true" plovers and dotterels).

In Europe's Anglophone countries, "lapwing" refers specifically to the northern lapwing, the only member of this group to occur in most of the continent and thus the first bird to go by the English name 'lapwing'.

Lune Forest

Lune Forest is a Site of Special Scientific Interest covering an extensive area of moorland in the Teesdale district of west Durham, England. In the north, where it adjoins the Upper Teesdale and Appleby Fells SSSIs, it extends from Mickle Fell eastward almost as far as Harter Fell, above the hamlet of Thringarth. Its southern limit is marked by the River Balder, upstream from Balderhead Reservoir, where it shares a boundary with Cotherstone Moor SSSI to the south. Grains o' th' Beck Meadows and Close House Mine SSSIs are entirely surrounded by Lune Forest, but do not form part of it.

The area has one of the most extensive areas of relatively undisturbed blanket bog in northern England, as well as a number of upland habitats, including wet and dry heath, acid grassland, limestone grassland and flushes.The predominant vegetation is blanket mire, in which heather, Calluna vulgaris, and hare's-tail cottongrass, Eriophorum vaginatum, are co-dominant. On higher ground, to the west, dwarf shrubs such as cloudberry, Rubus chamaemorus, and crowberry, Empetrum nigrum, are more frequent. Where steep slopes have inhibited peat formation, the blanket mire gives way to dry heath, in which heather, wavy hair-grass, Deschampsia flexuosa, and bilberry, Vaccinium myrtillus, are the dominant species.

In the northern part of the site, areas where the underlying limestone outcrops at the surface, or has been cut into by small streams, are marked by bands of grassland, typically dominated by mat-grass, Nardus stricta, and with herbs such as heath bedstraw, Galium saxatile, and tormentil, Potentilla erecta. Where the limestone soils are thinner, a more species-rich grassland is found: wild thyme, Thymus praecox, and selfheal, Prunella vulgaris, are common, and in some places there are large populations of spring gentian, Gentiana verna, a nationally rare species that is found nowhere else in Great Britain outside the Teesdale area.The area supports breeding populations of several important birds: merlin, short-eared owl and Eurasian golden plover are listed in Annex 1 of the European Commission's Birds Directive as requiring special protection, while black grouse, red grouse, dunlin, Northern lapwing, ring ouzel and twite are listed in the United Kingdom's Red Data Book (Birds).The site is within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Metsamor Important Bird Area

Metsamor Important Bird Area is a 10,296-hectare (25,440-acre) region of Armenia designated by BirdLife International, as an "Important Bird Area" (IBA) with the main aim of protecting bird species and habitats. The area is also recognized as Emerald Site and Key Biodiversity Area.The IBA is located in Ararat Plain of Armenia and is represented by combination of wetlands, semi-desert, and mosaic arable lands.Overall there are 225 bird species recorded in this area, including 92 breeding species and 133 migratory and wintering ones.The area hosts globally threatened Common Pochard, Northern Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, European turtle dove, Pallid Harrier; Nationally threatened Levant Sparrowhawk, Black-winged Stilt, Savii's Warbler; as well as for the species included in Appendix II of the Bern Convention, such as White Stork, Roller, Syrian Woodpecker, and Lesser Grey Shrike.

The area was designated as an IBA in 2002. It is one of eighteen Important Bird Areas in Armenia.

Mid-Yare National Nature Reserve

Mid-Yare NNR is a national nature reserve in Norfolk, east of Norwich, established by English Nature and managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). In RSPB publications, this reserve is known as Strumpshaw Fen.

The reserve consists of floodplains along the River Yare, and the total area is 7.8 km2. It centres on the Strumpshaw area.

The alder carr and willow carr support the swallowtail butterfly and the Norfolk hawker dragonfly Aeshna isosceles, as well as marsh harriers, bearded tits and most of the country's Cetti's warblers.

The wet grasslands hold internationally important numbers of wigeon, nationally important numbers of European white-fronted goose, and Britain's largest flock of bean goose, as well as northern lapwing, common redshank and common snipe.

The RSPB controls the water levels, maintains the dykes, cuts the reed beds and keeps disturbance of the wildlife to a minimum.

Moorhouse and Cross Fell

Moorhouse and Cross Fell is a Site of Special Scientific Interest covering an extensive area of moorland in the Wear Valley district of west County Durham and the Eden district of Cumbria, England. It is contiguous with Upper Teesdale SSSI to the east and Appleby Fells SSSI to the south. The area covered extends roughly from an arc through the villages of Gamblesby, Leadgate and Garrigill southward as far as Milburn in the west and Cow Green Reservoir in the east. It includes the whole of Cross Fell, the summit of which, at 893 metres asl, is the highest point in the Pennines and in England outside the Lake District.

The area is important for its wide variety of upland habitats, especially blanket bog, sub-montane and montane heath, montane bryophyte heath, limestone grassland and flushes, and for the fauna and flora that they support. The site also includes a number of localities of geological interest.More than forty species of birds breed in the area, including several raptors—merlin, peregrine, common buzzard, common kestrel, short-eared owl—and waders—Eurasian golden plover, dunlin, common sandpiper, northern lapwing, Eurasian curlew, common redshank, and common snipe—whose survival is threatened; four (merlin, peregrine, golden plover and short-eared owl) are listed in Annex 1 of the European Commission's Birds Directive as requiring special protection and others (including lapwing and dunlin) are listed in the United Kingdom's Red Data Book (Birds).The invertebrate fauna is best known from studies conducted over many years at the Moor House NNR. The area shares many characteristics with the Cairngorms region of Scotland but there are some notable rarities, including a rove beetle, Olophrum assimile, which is known from only one other locality in Britain, a carabid beetle, Nebria nivalis, which has not been found anywhere else in the North Pennines and is known elsewhere in Britain only from North Wales, the Cairngorms and Scafell Pike, and a leiodid beetle, Hydnobius spinipes, which is known from only four other localities in Britain. In all, some 27 endangered species and over 70 nationally scarce species have been recorded from the Moor House reserve.Although the area has a variety of habitats, it is the montane vegetation that is particularly notable. The summit of Cross Fell is dominated by a heath in which the moss Racromitium lanuginosum is dominant and is the most extensive area of such heath in England. Other notable montane and sub-montane species include hair sedge, Carex capillaris, northern bedstraw, Galium boreale, mountain everlasting, Antennaria dioica, and alpine forget-me-not, Myosotis alpestris.Within the site are five localities of geological interest, of which the following are particularly notable:

Knock Fell Caverns — situated at the head of Knock Ore Gill, this is the most extensive maze cave system in Britain.

Cross Fell — together with the Dun Fells and Knock Fell, this area is important both for its examples of periglacial landforms and because some periglacial processes are still active.


Pewett (1786 – after 1812) was a British Thoroughbred racehorse and broodmare best known for winning the classic St Leger Stakes in 1789. Her name was spelled in various ways including Pewet, Pewit and Pewitt and would appear to be a reference to the northern lapwing. In a racing career which lasted from May 1789 and May 1792 she won four of her thirteen races. In the St Leger she finished second to a colt named Zanga, but was awarded the race when the winner was disqualified for causing interference. After her retirement from racing she became a successful broodmare whose descendants won many important races throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


Rasikbil or Rasikbeel is a small lake situated in the Cooch Behar district of West Bengal, India. This lake attracts a lot of birds which make nests in the trees around the lake. The bird varieties which live in and around the lake includes cormorants, different varieties of storks, ibis, spoonbill, kingfisher, parrots, owl and many others. There is a deer park and a crocodile rehabilitation center by the side of the lake. There are also a leopard house, a python house, Aviary & a Tortoise rescue entre. This following water birds found in Rasik Beel- Lesser Whistling Teal, Common Teal, White eyed pochard, Red Crested pochard, Shoveler, Pintail, Wigeon duck, Grey headed Lapwing, Northern Lapwing, Pied Kingfisher, Stork billed kingfisher, Small blue kingfisher, Little Cormorant, Large Cormorant, Gadwall etc.

Teesdale Allotments

Teesdale Allotments is a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the Teesdale district of County Durham, England. It consists of two large upland areas north of the Tees valley, one to the north and east of the village of Newbiggin, the other to the north-east of Middleton-in-Teesdale.

The area, which adjoins the Upper Teesdale SSSI, consists of enclosed upland grazings, and is of national importance for its bird populations. Species that breed in the area include Northern lapwing, common snipe, common redshank, Eurasian golden plover, black grouse and Eurasian curlew, all except the last of which are declining in numbers nationally. Densities of breeding waders are among the highest in Britain, with up to 90 pairs recorded from one 1 km square.The black grouse population is particularly important: while this species has declined almost everywhere in England, and is now extinct in some former breeding areas, such as Dartmoor and Exmoor, the population in Teesdale has remained relatively stable, and the area now holds 30 percent of the English population, 7 percent of it in the Teesdale Allotments.

Other breeding birds include common teal, merlin, red grouse, short-eared owl, ring ouzel, and Northern wheatear, all of which are listed, or are candidates for listing, in the United Kingdom's Red Data Book (Birds). Three breeding species—merlin, golden plover and short-eared owl—are listed in Annex 1 of the European Commission's Birds Directive as requiring special protection.


Vanellus is the genus of waders which provisionally contains all lapwings except red-kneed dotterel, Erythrogonys cinctus. The name "vanellus" is Latin for "little fan", vanellus being the diminutive of vannus ("winnowing fan"). The name is in reference to the sound lapwings' wings make in flight.

WWT London Wetland Centre

WWT London Wetland Centre is a wetland reserve managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in the Barnes area of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, southwest London, England, by Barn Elms. The site is formed of four disused Victorian reservoirs tucked into a loop in the Thames.

The centre first opened in 2000, and in 2002 an area of 29.9 hectares was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest as the Barn Elms Wetland Centre.The centre occupies more than 100 acres (40 hectares) of land which was formerly occupied by several small reservoirs. These were converted into a wide range of wetland features and habitats before the centre opened in May 2000. It was the first urban project of its kind in the United Kingdom.

Many wild birds which have now made their home in the Centre cannot be found anywhere else in London, and there are nationally significant numbers of gadwall and northern shoveler. Other wild birds include Eurasian bittern, northern pintail, northern lapwing, water rail, ring-necked parakeet, Eurasian sparrowhawk, sand martin, common kingfisher, little grebe and great crested grebe. The centre also holds a collection of captive wildfowl.

It is host to regular lectures and events concerned with preserving Britain's wetland animals and was featured on the BBC television programme Seven Natural Wonders in 2005 as one of the wonders of the London area, with a focus on the region's parakeets, in an episode presented by Bill Oddie. The site contains a large visitors' building which is occasionally used as a wedding venue.

In 2012 London Wetland Centre was voted Britain's Favourite Nature Reserve in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards.


Whiffling is a term used in ornithology to describe the behavior whereby a bird rapidily descends with a zig-zagging, side-slipping motion. Sometimes to whiffle, a bird flies briefly with its body turned upside down but with its neck and head twisted 180 degrees around in a normal position. The aerodynamics which usually give a bird lift during flying are thereby inverted and the bird briefly plummets toward the ground before this is quickly reversed and the bird adopts a normal flying orientation. This erratic motion resembles a falling leaf, and is used to avoid avian predators or may be used by geese (family Anatidae) to avoid a long, slow descent over an area where wildfowling is practised.The behavior is seen in several species including lesser yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes), the black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa), the northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), geese (e.g. pink-footed goose (Anser brachyrhynchus)), three species of scoter (Melanitta), and other members of the family Anatidae.

White-tailed lapwing

The white-tailed lapwing or white-tailed plover (Vanellus leucurus) is a wader in the lapwing genus. The genus name Vanellus is Medieval Latin for a lapwing and derives from vannus a winnowing fan. The specific leucurus is from Ancient Greek leukouros, "white-tailed".This medium-sized lapwing is long-legged and fairly long-billed. It is the only lapwing likely to be seen in other than very shallow water, where it picks insects and other small prey mainly from the surface.

Adults are slim erect birds with a brown back and foreneck, paler face and grey breast. Its long yellow legs, pure white tail and distinctive brown, white and black wings make this species unmistakable. Young birds have a scaly back, and may show some brown in the tail.

The breeding season call is a peewit, similar to northern lapwing.

It breeds semi-colonially on inland marshes in Iraq, Iran and southern Russia. Four eggs are laid in a ground nest. The Iraqi and Iranian breeders are mainly residents, but Russian birds migrate south in winter to the Indian Subcontinent, the Middle East and north east Africa. It is a very rare vagrant in western Europe, the first example in Britain being found at Packington, Warwickshire on 12 July 1975.

In some parts of its distribution range the species faces threats related to habitat destruction and unintentional poaching.The white-tailed lapwing is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

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