Lapwing Champions at Parc Slip

Lapwing Chick by Mike Snelle

Lapwing Chick by Mike Snelle

Lapwing Champions at Parc Slip

Lapwing Champions at Parc Slip

Over the past 2 years, the staff and volunteers at Parc Slip Nature Reserve have been carrying out conservation work throughout the autumn and winter to improve and increase nesting and foraging habitat for Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), a farmland bird that has been declining due to habitat loss.

The project, which has been supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, has so far involved over 350 volunteer hours, which have been spent digging ponds, clearing scrub, raking, weeding and also monitoring Lapwing activity. The benefits of this work have been evident this year, as 6 Lapwings were seen using the habitat throughout the Spring, and for the first time in a number of years a Lapwing pair successfully reared a chick, which fledged this June.

Not only have the Lapwings benefitted from the conservation project, but the volunteers involved have also enjoyed being part of it. Alan Rosney, a Lapwing Champion volunteer, said:

“I have always had an interest in the natural world, particularly birds. Lapwings are one of my favourite birds and the sound of their ‘pee-wit’ call was quite common in my youth. It would be a tragedy if we lost such an iconic species. Now that I have retired, I have the time to become a volunteer and I have thoroughly enjoyed my volunteering at Parc Slip. The activities have been very varied - clearing scrapes, hacking back vegetation, monitoring the returning Lapwings and such like. It has also enabled me to meet the reserve staff and fellow volunteers.”

Volunteering on the Lapwing project at Parc Slip gave our volunteers a chance to gain skills and experience in the conservation sector and also to spend some time in the natural world, having some close encounters with Lapwings. Alexander McCarthy, another of our Lapwing Champions said:

“After being made redundant I wanted to do something that was rewarding and also gave me conservation experience.  Volunteering as a ‘Lapwing Champion’ represented the perfect opportunity to do this and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

It was all pretty labour intensive work but very rewarding knowing that my hard work (along with the other volunteers and staff) could become the foundation to the conservation of the Lapwings at Parc Slip.  This was highlighted on the day that I first saw a pair of flying Lapwings and heard their unforgettable nasal, strained calling, ‘whee-er-ee, a whip-wheep’!

Once it was early spring and a few pairs of Lapwings had started to settle at Parc Slip, we stopped working on clearing away scrub. We didn’t want to disturb or frighten the Lapwings away and so concentrated instead on observing them from an observation hide. We made field notes concerning their behaviour and threat of potential predators. It was amusing watching the males’ courtship behaviour as they tried to impress the females by lifting their orange backsides. I felt that witnessing this ritualistic behaviour was more than a reward for all the hard work of clearing away scrub and making scrapes.

Overall, being a ‘Lapwing Champion’ was a brilliant opportunity that has taught me so much. Everyone I met was so dedicated, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. I would recommend this experience to everyone, what better way to spend your time than being active and helping to protect wildlife. I hope to have the opportunity to come back to Parc Slip next autumn and winter and work again to protect these fascinating and wonderful birds.”

Thanks to players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, we were able to benefit both people and wildlife on this project and we hope to be able to continue with this good work for years to come, so we may support the beautiful Lapwing on its way back to recovery at Parc Slip.

To find out more about volunteering with the Trust visit our website: www.welshwildlife.org