Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus is one of the two qualifying species of the Special Protection Area (SPA) of Oroklini Lake and one of the main species targeted by the LIFE Oroklini project. Oroklini Lake is one of the top 5 nesting sites in Cyprus for this species.
The Spur-winged Lapwing is a migratory species that breeds in Cyprus and is also a passage migrant. Some birds have been recorded to winter in Cyprus.
This wader reaches 25 – 28 cm length and is found near water on bare or sparsely vegetated open ground. It mainly feeds on insects and chooses bare ground to build its nest. This species has a mainly African distribution; it is a scarce breeder is Southeast Europe and vagrant to West Europe. It breeds only in Greece and Cyprus from the countries of the EU. In Cyprus it has a central, south-eastern and eastern distribution.
The Spur-winged Lapwing is an easily distinguished bird. It has a distinctive large white cheek patch on otherwise black head and has black breast, flanks and tail. The bill is black and the legs are dark grey. It is a noisy bird and its call is quite similar to the Black-winged Stilt’s call.
The Spur-winged Lapwing is a species on Annex I of the Birds Directive (2009/147/EU). Its considered threatened, category Vulnerable (VU) at European level according to IUCN (World Conservation Union) criteria. The Cyprus population is slightly bigger than the Greek standing at around 40-60 pairs each year. Ensuring the favourable conservation status of the species in Cyprus is therefore a very important contribution to the EU value added of the project. Oroklini hosts around 10 pairs each year. Other important areas in Cyprus where this species nests is Paralimni Lake, Achna Dam, Aradippou area, Larnaca wetland and Mia Milia.
The recent island wide census (2007-2009) showed a population over 200 (at 10 wetlands during autumn migration) while around 50 birds wintered in Cyprus. The breeding population was estimated around 59-65 pairs (in 15 areas).
Enhancing and maintaining the breeding population of Cyprus, through management of Oroklini Lake, and through establishing Favourable Reference Values for the species in Cyprus directly helps to enhance and help conserve more than 50% of the EU population.