Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The Lusting Lapwing Pressed his Suit

At last! I finally managed my first cycling adventure to RSPB Langford Lowfields of 2015, the nasty cricket clonk on my leg discouraging running today.

Typically I overdressed and was rather sweaty after not very far, but on a pleasant cycle in on a warmish day I was cheered to see a blackcap gathering nesting material, and the house martins circling the old station cottage at Winthorpe crossing.

The fields were a vivid yellow with blooming oilseed rape, and before the turn off onto the dirt track to Langford, a buzzard had found a thermal and was using it like an escalator to ascend in broad spirals to look for food from on high.

I noted with approval a little bike park had been installed up by the Beach Hut, and after parking up and taking in the view across the lake and the sight of the densest clusters of cowslips I'd ever seen, I headed down to the waterside to see what I might see in my 10x50s.

As ever, all the interesting ducks of winter had gone before conditions were good enough for the cycle over, and at first glance only the usual mallard, tufted duck and grebes and coots were on the water. But as ever at Langford, you must be patient in order to be rewarded.

The first slightly more exotic bird I noticed was an oystercatcher, probing away in the mud surrounding the table sized island it had decided was home. But as I watched it, and failed to take a picture through my binoculars, an odd cry alerted me to another presence over the reed bed.

It was a lapwing, engaged in a crazy series of flights across the water, its raggedy broad wings alternately flapping, gliding, then folding up like a peregrine to drop like a stone almost to the surface of the bed.

All the while it let fly with excited cries. "Brrrrrrrrrr poyyy-WOOOOIEEENK". Not at all "pee-wit" to my ears (see also; chiff chaff) and very different from the alarm calls I hear them make at night. This bird was in love.

"Brrrrrr poyyy-WOOOOIEEEENK" it swooped and cried, and another bird flew up to join it from across the lake. "PEEEP" scolded a pair of oystercatchers as they flew off rather more sedately. The lapwing flew together for a while, but soon our lusty young blade was aloft alone again.

I set off round the lake, watching sand martins in the distance over Phase 3, my first of the year. "Brrrrrr poyyyy-WOOOIEEEENK" followed me all the while, on top of the scratchy call of what may have been hidden sedge warblers.

It still cried as I crossed the wobbly bridge, still flying for love unrequited. I could hear it as I observed goldfinch and greenfinch squabbling over the feeders by the hide. I could hear it as I watched a number of shy whitethroat peering up at me from the reeds.

Back to to where I started, idle chit chat with pair of ladies who lunch having their lunch while birdwatching. "Brrrrr poooyyy-WOOOIEEEENK" he cried again.

"He hasn't stopped yet" I said. "We know", said the ladies.

One can't help wondering, was his love strong enough in the end?


RSPB Langford Lowfields entrance

Organic bike park

Plentiful, but unknown to me

Cowslips in regalia

Bin-scoping fail

View from the platform

This interesting fellow joined me for a bit

Info board

New viewing area at Phase 2

Hoverfly on ground ivy

Higher view

The wobbly bridge

Coming out of bud

Nesting area

Langford church

Holme church. Note coats of arms over entrance

Similar to red campion, but don't know it

Strange yellow plant


  1. The 'similar to red campion' one I think is honesty.
    The first flower photograph looks to me like what I call cuckoo flower and the farmer calls milkmaids - they are out here now in the grass. Another name is Lady's Smock and its Latin name is Cardamine Pratensis - look it up and let me know if I am correct.

  2. I think it's Honesty too Simon and the plentiful one is definitely Lady's Smock. That's what we call it round here Pat. Don't you love all the regional variations?

  3. Brilliant! Definitely the one, it's a name I certainly recognise! I am getting very slower better at botany. And I mean very.