February 20th- the lapwings are back!

The lapwings are back. Lapwings are one of my favourite sketching subjects. Sketching the variety of plumage in a jostling winter lapwing flock is something I have really missed in this recent lockdown. Tolly and I were walking towards an area we call Warbler Corner (for its variety of breeding warblers in summer) when we saw two lapwings in the adjacent field. I am fairly certain that they are returning local breeding birds, quite possibly the same individuals I sketched in April last year. They have some ideal feeding conditions with the set aside field partially flooded.

A vivid memory of the first lockdown last April was standing in the back garden at midnight listening to lapwings displaying over nearby fields. There was no noise from human activity, it was a moment that has really stayed with me. Hearing the lapwings displaying was a great comfort, a knowledge that the natural world at least remained constant. We watched the lapwings attempt to breed through that first lockdown feeling a true sense of privilege, whilst mindful of so much suffering elsewhere. We are not sure whether their chicks fledged, but our lapwings left in the summer and we have not seen them since.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder they say and seeing lapwings after so many months was magnificent. At the same time we heard our first skylark singing. Lockdown has again made a familiar bird feel exotic. I like to think I have always looked at lapwings in this way and have undoubtedly missed rarer species whilst captivated by their beauty, but yesterday’s sighting shared with Tolly took me by surprise; there and then it gave me an emotional jolt and reminded me of the healing power of observing the natural world.


Lapwing studies- back lit in flooded set aside field.
Lapwing in flooded set aside field.

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