Sociable Lapwing, from Nancy to Lelystad

In my early years of twitching I joined Max Berlijn on a trip to a place near Nancy, France where a Sociable Lapwing was reported. At the time we felt that it could be our last chance to see this enigmatic species in real life, because it’s breeding population on the Kazakh plains was declining fast.


We saw the bird in a flock of Northern Lapwings and returned satisfied. Since that day I have seen the species two or three times in the Netherlands and there have been quite a few records of birds that I didn’t see. In the past few years we learned a lot of the species wintering ground, complete unknown till some large flocks were found wintering in Syria, but still the species is highly vulnerable.

And that is why I set of with the family to see an immature Sociable Lapwing that was found some days earlier near Lelystad. Although the bird had a reputation of being hard to find and it would probably show at a great distance we thought we should give it a try as it was still seen that very morning.
When we arrived it became clear that it wouldn’t be an easy task to find it. No birders present, no suitable habitat in sight and the flock of Northern Lapwings and Eurasian Golden Plovers that held the bird was highly mobile and nowhere to be seen. After re-reading the Dutch Bird Alert I learned that bird in question had left that morning in a south-easterly direction so we decided to check the area there. After we had checked a road with no result I thought I saw some people with telescopes further down the second road we tried. When we came closer this turned out to be the case and what is more, they were looking at the bird! And distant it was. The heat haze didn’t do much good, but the bird was easily identifiable. After a while the whole party took flight and diappeared out of sight. I felt we were lucky.

The picture below shows the field, the lapwing was way in the back.

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