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A winter visitor to Dorset, often in large flocks.

Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

One of my earliest memories of nature is my father taking me out into the New Forest near Beaulieu where we lived to see the lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) nesting in a bog there; that was back in the 1950s and times have changed. The lapwing is now a scarce nesting species in southern England and I am not at all sure any nest in Dorset. They were connected with Tadnoll not so long ago but I am pretty sure the attempted nest failed and they have not been back since. I may be wrong, I may have missed more recent news.

Whilst lapwing can be seen in Dorset through much of the year reports are few and far between with just small number of tweets each week. The weekly chart is quite unusual as it shows between 1 and 5 reports most weeks but in week 9 this rises to 33 in March. There were also far more records in 2018 than 2017 and that spike in reports coincides with the bitterly cold 'beast from the east' and shows how bitter weather will force birds to move and what we witnessed that week were large numbers of hungry birds desperately looking for unfrozen ground where they could feed. These large flocks almost certainly had to move down into France and Spain to escape the adverse weather here in Britain. The 'beast' hit ground feeding birds very hard indeed.

Although waders they are generally found feeding on farmland but in Dorset the majority of reports come from coastal locations especially those where there are shallow, flooded scrapes and so Lytchett Bay, Sunnyside Farm, Abbotsbury and Lodmoor seem to produce the most reports.

In my experience the best views of lapwing can be had at Lodmoor in Weymouth during the winter months.    


Lapwing: pee-wit or green plover

Common Name Lapwing
Alternative Name(s) Green Plover or Pee-wit
Scientific Name Vanellus vanellus
Species Group Birds Plovers
Status Locally frequent
Interest Level
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Look for

The green plumage, unique amongst waders

Identification Notes
  • Probably no longer nests in Dorset and seen mainly as a winter visitor but nay be seen at any time of year
  • Usually in large flocks and make an impressive sight in flight
  • The have a particularly 'lazy' flight which gives them their most common name of the lapwing 
Primary Habitat
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Birds Plovers