While out for a walk with my son this morning we noticed a small flock over lapwings passing overhead. Just a dozen or so.

We rarely see them around here despite the Somerset Levels, about half an hour away, being an important winter site for them. The last time I saw them here was February 2018 when we had the so-called Beast from the East.

I recall watching flocks of lapwings heading south west, never large in number, along with golden plover, redwings and fieldfares. Rather than the blue sky and broken cloud of today, it was a dark heavy sky, thick with snow. I remember checking on Twitter and saw report after report of birds reaching the coast, desperately seeking shelter and perhaps more importantly, food in the unfrozen edges of estuaries and shorelines. Photos of lapwings in residential streets, or huddled around the hulls and buildings of a boatyard stick in my mind. All the places you’d never normally see them.

And then over the following days, after the thaw, stories of dead birds strewn along hedgerows and the edges of fields. The ones that didn’t make it.

I presume the flock I saw today were heading away from the east where the weather has been much colder than here. Unlike the birds in 2018, unfrozen ground will be much easier to find.

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