29 APRIL 1955, Page 12

A LAPWING'S NEST Force of habit made me watch the

lapwings twisting and turning in the air above a crow that slowly flapped away. I used to love to find the lapwing's nest and when the crow had been driven off I could not resist climbing the fence and walking towards the bird that had settled. The hen rose long before I was near her. I was not misled by her rising for, like other birds which nest on the ground, including the skylark, she had moved away from the nest unobtrusively while I came across the field. I found myself on a patch of clay and rough grass and distracted from my search by three snipe that sprang into the air and went curling away over my head. The lapwing had beaten me, I thought. My instinct for finding their nests had dulled, but at that moment I saw it, a little hollow in the harder ground to my right. I paused for a second and another old instinct came to me. I did not bend down or give the nest more than a single glance. Long ago it used to be the habit of ploughboys to keep those in search of lapwing nests under observation. A nest with two eggs in it could be marked down and robbed before the finder could return to take the full clutch. I had no intention of letting the plover be robbed by anyone and hoped my little stroll across the rough Geld looked as aimless as I had tried to make it seem.