Stone the crows

BBC: Attempt to save declining lapwing

A five-year project has been launched to halt the decline of the lapwing, a bird traditionally known as the "farmer's friend".

More than 250 farm sites have been chosen to test measures designed to help the species recover.

Lapwing numbers have declined in the UK by almost 50% since 1970.

The article goes on to explain that the decline is believed to be due to modern farming practices, such as the loss of mixed agriculture, and the draining of land. This may well be correct, but I think there might be another reason, also linked with changes in farming practices:

I live in the South Pennines. Lapwings are one of my favourite birds. A pair of them nests in the fields behind my house every year. I have spent many an hour watching them from afar, and would be truly amazed if they have ever managed to rear a brood successfully. The reason: carrion crows. There are hundreds of them in these parts, and the poor lapwings seem to spend the whole of the nesting season fighting them off. I can't believe any of the eggs/chicks survive the onslaught. Indeed, I was talking to someone about it only last week, and he said that, this summer, he witnessed a carrion crow flying off with a young lapwing chick.

And why are there suddenly so many carrion crows? I would guess it's because so few farmers are shooting them any more. The laudable clampdown on firearms in recent years, and the public's disapproval of shooting birds have meant, I would hazard a guess, that crow numbers have increased in recent years, with disastrous consequences for lapwings.

Well, that's my theory at least, and I'm sticking to it.

Writer and photographer Richard Carter, FCD is the founder of the Friends of Charles Darwin. He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteFacebookTwitterNewsletterBooks
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