Fanatics are again looking for the first lapwing egg

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Discovery of a lapwing egg at Aldehaske

In association with
Omrop Friesland
NOS News

You can’t get there early enough: it’s the end of February, but the meadows are already looking for the first lapwing egg. “In Friesland alone there is a pool of about 100 fanatical egg hunters who try to find the first egg every year,” says Inge van der Zee of the Bond Friese Vogelwachten (BFVW) at Omrop Fryslân.

Not so long ago it was a competition: finding and collecting the first lapwing egg. Aaisykje in Frisian. Searchers kept a close eye on how a pair of lapwings behaved.

If a male and female fiercely defended themselves against birds of prey and kept returning to a certain spot, there could be an egg on the nest. But even then it took a bit of luck to find such a lapwing egg in the grass. Unlike a white hen’s egg, a lapwing’s egg has protective colours.

Aftercare pass

At the beginning of this century, animal protectionists began to oppose the competition element, especially the removal of the lapwing eggs, which of course could no longer be hatched afterwards. Initially, the number of seekers was limited. They had to register.

In 2015, collecting eggs was also banned and replaced by aftercare. This means that the finder must do everything to ensure that the egg is hatched. Nowadays you even need an account and a paper aftercare pass to be able to search.

“Such an account in the registration system means that an egg finder is affiliated with a local bird watch,” explains Van der Zee. “They also have to do volunteer work for that. From the moment the first egg is found in their area, they provide aftercare until mid-July.”

The rules have become increasingly strict in the years that followed, according to the bird watchwoman. For example, you are only allowed to go out during daylight and the number of meadows where you can search is limited. Also lapwing seekers (minimum age 12 years) are no longer allowed to search on meadows where geese are also present.

Climate change

But the tradition has not disappeared. On the contrary. Since last year, the aaisykje has been credited as intangible heritage in the Netherlands and the enthusiasm to participate has increased again.

Moreover, the seekers no longer have to wait until a provincial exemption is issued on March 1. They can search now. And they would like that too, because it is expected that lapwings will lay eggs sooner because it is getting warmer due to climate change.

What has remained the same is that the finder (often the same day) is honored by the King of Friesland’s commissioner on the basis of the photo of the egg she or he takes.

At least, if the first lapwing egg is found in that province. Last year, for example, that was not the case: the first lapwing egg in the Netherlands was found on March 9 in Hengeelde (Twente).

It was not until five days later that the first Frisian lapwing egg of 2022 was found in Sint Annaparochie. Friesland was also unlucky in 2021: the first lapwing egg in the Netherlands was found on March 5 near Wilnis in the province of Utrecht.

  • New attempt Friese Vogelwacht: search for lapwing eggs on Unesco list
  • First lapwing egg of the year found in Wilnis
  • In association with

    Omrop Friesland

  • Regional news

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