Monday Bird of the Week No.28 – Lapwing

Lapwing

Lapwing

There are birds you think of visually, and then there are birds you think of as a sound. Usually it’s the sound of a place, like a Curlew calling across a moor. Or, in this case, the wild electronica of the lapwing.

For non-garden birds, the lawing must be one of the more prodigiously named birds. It’s the Lapwing, or Northern Lapwing. Or Plover. Or Green Plover. Or Pee-wit, Pewit, Tuit and Tew-it. I’m sure there are more.

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The latter four names there are an attempt to hit on some onomatopoeic alchemy that describes the sound of the animal, but there really is no point. It’s an electronic slide whistle being wielded by an over-excited child. A wild ride up and down a spectrum of sound. If you haven’t heard it, you have missed out. You can hear a recording here.

Lapwings take to the air

Lapwings take to the air

What’s great is that the sound is often accompanied by a similarly whirling flight display, like an animation trying to be tied to a sound. Like the bird is trying to map the wave pattern of its own calls. Any sense of threat is met with an unsettling and discombobulating experience of sight and sound. It’s both comedic and evocative. But with underlying threat. It’s really a treat.

A line of Lapwing, Bolton, 2009

A line of Lapwing, Bolton, 2009

When I lived in Bolton I would see them in, of all places, the middle of industrial estates. Like the Pied Wagtails we have often featured here, they take to urban roosts alongside Golden Plover, benefiting from that extra warmth and security a mass of building provide.

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I welcome thoughts, comments and questions, so please feel free to share anything at all. Thanks, David

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