Map explanation

This map shows where changes occurred in the relative abundance of the species in Wiltshire between 1995-2000 and 2007-2012, as revealed by the fieldwork for Birds of Wiltshire (Wiltshire Ornithological Society 2007) and the shared fieldwork for Bird Atlas 2007-2011 (BTO 2013) and for Wiltshire Tetrad Atlas 2007-2012.


Relative to average

Nos tetrads

More abundant



Equally abundant



Less abundant



Not surveyed in both periods

Lapwings breed in temperate areas of Europe and in a narrower band across southern Siberia and north central Asia. Those breeding to the east of Scandinavia, Germany and Switzerland migrate westward in winter, to the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Atlantic seaboard,  including to the British Isles, which are near the northern limit of the species in winter.
    Lapwings were regarded as a common breeding species in Great Britain in the 19th century and much of the 20th. The Common Bird Census of 1972 indicated that there were some 200,000 breeding pairs in the British Isles, while a 1987 calculation estimated that there were a total of about 123,000 pairs in England and Wales alone. A national breeding survey in 1998 however estimated that this total had by then nearly halved to 63,000, probably as a result of changes in agricultural practice, particularly the increase in autumn-sown cereals. Bird Atlas 2007-2011 showed a decline of 17% in breeding season distribution in Great Britain since the 1968-72 Atlas together with a substantial decrease in abundance in most of the regions where breeding continued. By contrast, there has been a marginal increase in the numbers wintering in Great Britain since the 1981-84 Winter Atlas.
    In Wiltshire, Lapwings remain a relatively common breeding species, but the trend is significantly downwards: Birds of Wiltshire recorded them in 444 tetrads in summer, with breeding confirmed or probable in 270. WTA2 recorded them in 320 tetrads with breeding in 208. In winter by contrast the trend in distribution has been sharply upwards: the partial winter survey for Birds of Wiltshire recorded Lapwings present in 16% of tetrads surveyed; surveys for WTA2 found them in 48% of tetrads.


The following references are used throughout these species accounts, in the abbreviated form given in quotation marks:
1968-72 Breeding Atlas” – Sharrack, J.T.R. 1976:  The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1981-84 Winter Atlas” – Lack, P.C. 1986:  The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1988-91 Breeding Atlas” – Gibbons, D.W., Reid, J.B. & Chapman, R.A. 1993: The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland 1988-91. T. & A. Poyser
Birds of Wiltshire” – Ferguson-Lees, I.J. et al. 2007 : Birds of Wiltshire, published by the tetrad atlas group of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society after mapping fieldwork 1995-2000. Wiltshire Ornithological Society.
Bird Atlas 2007-2011” – Balmer, D.E., Gillings, S., Caffrey, B.J., Swann, R.L., Downie, I.S. and Fuller, R.J. 2013: Bird Atlas 2007-2011: the Breeding and Wintering Birds of Britain and Ireland
WTA2” – ("Wiltshire Tetrad Atlas 2 ") the present electronic publication, bringing together the Wiltshire data from “Birds of Wiltshire” and “Bird Atlas 2007-11”, together with data from further fieldwork carried out in 2011 and 2012.
"Hobby" - the annual bird report of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society.