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Lapwings spread their wings at Sandwell Valley

Last modified: 04 July 2012

Lapwing calling

Returning lapwing...

Lapwings have taken to their newly improved home at RSPB Sandwell Valley nature reserve.

Work to improve the wetland home of lapwings has paid off this spring with an upturn in their fortunes.

Over last winter, the lapwings’ favoured wet meadow was much improved by the removal of large patches of invading willow bushes and the creation of new ditches and pools.

This work was made possible by a generous grant from The Veolia Environmental Trust (see note 1), which paid for the hire of an excavator to come on site to carry out the willow removal and earth moving.

This spring, eight pairs of lapwings returned to nest at the reserve, spending much of their time feeding on the wet meadow and one pair even nested there too, others nesting on an the island in the lake.

It’s not just lapwings that have been making themselves at home at the reserve, oystercatchers bred successfully and raised three young and little ringed plovers have just hatched with three chicks.

Ducks have also benefitted from the wetter conditions, up to ten drake gadwall ducks have been using the marsh. The reserve has also recorded 50 snipe using the marsh during the winter months.

Nick Martin, RSPB Site Manager said: “The winter work on the marsh has made a bigger difference than we dared hope for. 

“The benefits of digging out the willows extended out more widely, creating a new area for little ringed plovers to nest. 

“The work also improved the connection between birds nesting on the island and the rich feeding areas on the wet meadow – so vital when birds need to find plenty of worms and other creepy crawlies to feed their hungry chicks. Thanks to The Veolia Environmental Trust, the reserve is in real tip top condition for birds and other wildlife.”

Executive Director of The Veolia Environmental Trust, McNabb Laurie, adds: “It is really great to hear the improvements, supported through the Landfill Communities Fund, have already made such a difference to the local bird population. I am sure that the new feathered residents will be a welcome sight to all who visit this fantastic reserve.”

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