On Sunday 14th May, a pair of Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus) was observed mobbing a Fox (Vulpes vulpes) on the marshy grassland at Effingham Lodge Farm (ELF). This suggested that the Lapwings were nesting in the area.
Lapwings are a Near Threatened species globally, and have a Red conservation status in the UK. The BTO website shows that the species has seen a decline in its breeding population of 53% in the last 25 years. The parents engage in active defence of their eggs and chicks by either flying at a potential predator or by enacting a distraction display, the latter often an attempt to lead the predator away from the nest’s location. Nesting Lapwings may also modify their behaviour if they are being watched by a human observer, for example by making ‘false nest visits’ to an area that is not the nest.
On Wednesday 17th May, Mr Gilchrist, a Director of Berkley Homes (Southern) Ltd was observed by Mr Whitby an Ecologist, wandering around the marshy grassland area. A pair of Lapwings were observed displaying distress behaviour. Presumably because the Lapwings were trying to defend their nest or chicks.
As Mr Gilchrist was leaving the area he loudly clapped his hands. When asked why, he responded “because they were attacking me”.