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But the past two decades have seen a catastrophic crash in numbers: according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds its British population declined by 52 per cent between 1970 and 1998.
In Wales the decline was 73 per cent between 1987 and 1998, and Devon, where once thousands of lapwings bred, "a pair on every farm", now has only 100 pairs across the whole county.
As well as mountains and marshes, farmland is a major habitat, and, as with the skylark, changes in farming practice are believed to be a main cause of their decline. They have been hit in particular by the dwindling of mixed farming - arable and livestock combined.
Lapwings flourish where both are found together, as the birds like to nest on bare fields of young crops, where they can see predators coming, then take their chicks almost as soon as they are born into pastures, where insect food is more plentiful. But British agriculture is increasingly polarising, with crops grown in the east and livestock raised in the West. This and other changes, such as intensified field drainage, mean that in many places lapwings have disappeared altogether.