Strange creatures, lapwings. Their wings are long, flappy and shaped like paddles. They flutter about almost like butterflies, happily turning accidental summersaults in the air, or so it appears. One would hesitate to call them acrobats; their flight appears haphazard, gawky and awkward. But that is just a trick, perhaps to make themselves appear bigger than they are. At this time of year there is a clear and present purpose to their flight. As you cycle along the meadows you see them, nearly always at considerable distance, flapping and flopping away, keeping potential predators away from their young. Yesterday as I cycled from Voorburg to Rijpwetering and back I could see it everywhere: determined lapwings with their characteristic peewit call, going straight for much larger gulls and crows, chasing them away, negotiating their own bodies to circle and worry their target, maneuvering with extraordinary skill and intimidating in-your-face flap-power, going straight for the other bird’s neck and making them look sheepish and turn away. Once their mission is successful they climb high up, throw a triumphant call, perform yet more floppy acrobatics before making a secure landing back at the nest. Cool birds, they need a fanclub.
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