Heads of the Valleys lapwing project

The Heads of the Valleys area has been identified as a Key Area for lapwing, supporting approximately 10 per cent of the Welsh population. Reclaimed coal tips, characteristic of the area, have provided ideal nesting habitat for these birds.

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, adult, male in breeding habitat pasture, Northumberland


Lapwings declined by 77 per cent in Wales between 1997–98 and as such, they are now a Welsh red list and a Principal Biodiversity Action Plan species. This decline is thought to be largely caused by the loss of mixed farming and spring cropping and the intensification of grassland management. 
It is estimated there are about 600 pairs of lapwing left in Wales. The Heads of the Valleys area supports approximately 60 pairs; 10 per cent of the total population.
Lapwings are birds which are usually associated with farmland, but in the Heads of the Valleys, the reclaimed coal tips and areas of ground undergoing development, have provided some ideal nesting habitat for these birds.
However, these types of areas are often temporary in nature; when they are eventually developed the birds are forced to move on.
In order to prevent further decline of the lapwing population, we need to work with planners, developers and landowners within the area to promote habitat management to benefit lapwings.


  • To restore/create network of secure lapwing breeding sites.
  • To provide conservation management advice to planners, developers and land managers.
  • To raise awareness of lapwing conservation issues in the local area.

Key Dates

  • May 2008 - First pair of lapwing breeding at Parc Bryn Bach, mitigation site for loss of a nearby large lapwing breeding colony.

Planned Work

  • Continued working with developers and landowners to manage habitats for lapwing.
  • Production of a ‘Heads of the Valleys Lapwing Strategy’ to be taken up by local authorities and key partner organisations.


  • Data gathered during 2007 and 2008 has identified presence of approx. 60 pairs.
  • Lapwing productivity within the area has been estimated at 0.2 fledged chicks per pair, which is well below the 0.7 required to maintain a stable population.


  • Wales Assembly Government
  • Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council




Coast on a stormy day

Camilla Smith

Heads of the Valleys Lapwing Project Officer, RSPB


Further reading

Tagged with: Habitat: Farmland Habitat: Grassland Habitat: Heathland Habitat: Upland Habitat: Urban and suburban Habitat: Wetland Species: Lapwing Project status: Ongoing Project types: Advocacy Project types: Species protection