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RSPB project boosts lapwings in Lancashire

Last modified: 08 December 2014

Two lapwings

Lapwing numbers have plummeted by 80% since the 1960's.

Image: Jodie Randall

A nature conservation project in West Lancashire, aimed at increasing the number of lapwings, has enjoyed a record-breaking season.

In 2010, the RSPB erected a 3km electric fence around Newton Marsh on the Fylde coast to help protect breeding lapwings from fox predation. Since then, the number of lapwings breeding at the site has steadily increased and this year, it enjoyed its most successful season ever with 55 pairs producing 49 fledged chicks. 

In addition to the fence, which was funded by Natural England, the RSPB employed a project officer, funded by Biffa Award, to warden the marsh and monitor the productivity of lapwings and other wading birds.

This season, the project officer recorded 39 pairs of redshanks, fledging 29 chicks and the first successful breeding pair of black-tailed godwits at Newton Marsh since 2008.

Lapwings belong to a group of birds known as waders: typically long-legged birds which generally feed at the water’s edge or in wet grassland.

Known locally as “chewits” after their distinctive call, lapwings are disappearing from lowland England. Changes in agriculture have contributed to numbers of the breeding birds in England plummeting by 80 per cent since the 1960s. As a result, lapwings are on the UK’s Red List of threatened species.

Tony Baker, RSPB Ribble Reserves Site Manager, said: “Lapwings have declined massively in recent years so helping their numbers to recover is a major priority for the RSPB. Fortunately, our work appears to be paying off as the success at Newton Marsh this year has been replicated at many of our reserves around the country. However, a lot more work is needed if we want to see lapwings safely off the “red list”.

Gillian French, Biffa Award Programme Manager, said: “This project is an excellent example of how the Landfill Communities Fund can help improve local habitats for the benefit of wildlife.  We are pleased to be able to support this RSPB with this project.”

Newton Marsh is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is owned by local farmers who manage the land by grazing sheep and cattle.

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