The Beast from the East” hit the UK last week, bringing over an inch of snow in some parts, crippling communications and transport. The storm blew in from the Russian steppes and brought the country to a standstill as drifts threatened to top the kerbs and spill onto the sidewalks. Businesses and schools closed as workers, teachers and students were warned against travelling in conditions which could potentially prove to be mildly uncomfortable.

The hysteria from Siberia has pushed a few new birds our way and brought Northern Lapwings to Otham. Against all sensible advice, I had ventured into the garden and was lucky enough to witness the unexpected fly-over. Even more luckily, the camera was still indoors, so the inevitably silhouetted photo did not happen and you won’t be subjected to that. But I know you all like lists, so for your information, the lapwings brought my garden list total to 52.

These photos come from a visit to the Elmley marshes reserve on the Isle of Sheppey and Oare Marshes near Faversham.

Northern Lapwings go by many names, but my favourite is “Peewit”, said to have been coined to approximate the call of Vanellus vanellus.

They are very easy to identify in-flight with black and white plumage and flappy action with broad-tipped wings.

The numbers are augmented during the winter, when the population increases by nearly 4 times, but the species is still on the red list after the breeding population has plummeted over recent years.

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Written by Redgannet
Redgannet has been working for over 33 years as a crew member/flight attendant and enjoys the well-ventilated air of the outdoors. The nom de blog, Redgannet, was adopted to add an air of mystery and to make himself more attractive to women. His father first whetted Redguga's appetite for all things natural by buying him his first pair of 7x35s and a copy of Thorburn's Birds. Having no mentor beyond an indulgent parent, he spent the first season hoping for an Egyptian Vulture at the bird table in his English garden. His most memorable birding moment is seeing an Egyptian Vulture with those same binoculars 26 years later. Redgannet is married to Canon, but his heart and half of his house belongs to Helen and their son Joseph. He is looking forward to communicating with people who don't ask if he is searching for the "feathered variety" of bird.