|Scientific name:||Vanellus vanellus|
Residents, summer visitors from the Continent (France & Iberia) and winter visitors (from western & central Europe). Some overlap between all three groups. Greatest numbers occur in Ireland between September & April
Distinct black-and-white, pigeon-sized wader, with wide rounded wings and floppy beats in flight. Wispy crest extending upwards from back of head and green/purple irridescence seen at close range. Pinkish legs.
Plaintive "pwaay-eech' in flight, song described as 'chae-widdlewip, i-wip i-wip… cheee-o-wip'
Feed on a variety of soil and surface-living invertebrates, particularly small arthropods and earthworms. Also feed at night, possibly to avoid kleptoparasitic attacks by Black-headed Gulls, but also, some of the larger earthworm species are present near the soil surface at night, and thus are more easily accessible. They use traditional feeding areas, are opportunistic, and will readily exploit temporary food sources, such as ploughed fields and on the edge of floodwaters.
They breed on open farmland, and appear to prefer nesting in fields that are relatively bare (particularly when cultivated in the spring) and adjacent to grass.
Wintering distribution in Ireland is widespread. Large flocks regularly recorded in a variety of habitats, including most of the major wetlands, pasture and rough land adjacent to bogs.
Irish Wetland Bird Survey.
Widespread resident. Shannon & Fergus Estuary in County Clare, Shannon Callows in County Offaly and the Wexford Harbour & Slobs in County Wexford regularly support >10,000 birds. Other important sites include Strangford Lough in County Down and the Cull & Killag in County Wexford (>8,000 birds)
Winter population bolstered by migrant birds form Europe.