Lapwing Photo: Andrew Kelly

Campaign launched to help identify breeding Lapwing

March 27th, 2019

BirdWatch Ireland has called on members of the public to engage in a real-life Pokémon Go game by finding breeding Lapwing birds near their places of residence.

The conservation organisation’s new bird spotting challenge for the public is part of efforts to keep track of breeding Lapwings as their numbers are rapidly dwindling.

The survey, funded by the Department of Agriculture, is set to include all incidences of citizen observations of the bird from across the country.

The disappearance of breeding Lapwings or Green Plovers is not an isolated case with the declining number of Ireland’s iconic Curlews being well documented by BirdWatch Ireland.

According to a recent nationwide Bird Atlas study, there has been a 53 per cent decrease in Curlews’ breeding range in Ireland in the last 40 years.

Lapwings are also “red-listed” for immediate action on the Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland dossier with their endangered status raised in the Government’s Prioritised Action Framework 2014 to 2020.

Ricky Whelan, the coordinator for Project Lapwing, described keeping track of breeding Lapwing as a difficult feat since the species is often spotted in massive flocks during winter.

“[It] gives a false impression of their numbers. [when] in fact, breeding pairs are scarce which is cause for real concern,” Mr Whelan said.

He added, however, that there is still a chance to “intervene” before the birds reach “the brink of breeding extinction”.

Recent findings show that over 60 per cent of the 202 species of commonly occurring birds in Ireland are now on the red and amber conservation lists.

In February, President Michael D Higgins highlighted the precarious existence of Ireland’s breeding bird species.

“We are the first generation to truly comprehend the reality of what we’re doing to the natural world, and we may the last with the chance to avert much of the damage,” he said. “With this knowledge comes an extraordinary burden of responsibility that we all share.”

To participate in BirdWatch Ireland’s breeding Lapwing challenge and start submitting data, follow the link to the National Biodiversity Data Centre Page here.

The organisation is also running a workshop on the new project at Lough Boora, Co Offaly on Tuesday April 16.

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