Let the lapwing’s joyful call not fade into silence

Claxton, Norfolk Lapwing song was the omnipresent soundtrack of all my childhood springs. Now it has gone from behind our family home

Part of the charm of lapwings is that they look silly, a friend says, and I can surmise what she means. It’s the ridiculous crest, the unnecessary breadth of wing, which gives them so much more aerial lift and loop than they require, and then there’s the zaniness of their spring display. Nor should we leave out the high-pitched notes that pass for song and which remind me of a dog’s squeaky play bone wheezing in and out of tune as the animal chews.

Yet lapwings are too ingrained in a lifetime of memory for me to think them only silly. They are the first sounds I awakened to as a naturalist in Derbyshire, whose nests we came upon in the grass like a revelation, and whose blotched-brown Easter eggs seemed a kind of miracle.

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