Low rainfall in south-east England is leaving the region's wetland birds in a desperate situation, says the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Lapwings are one of the species of wetland birds hit by the drought
Species including lapwing, redshank and snipe are facing their worst breeding season on record in Kent and Sussex.
"The edges of pools are the only places where adult birds bring their young to feed, so chicks could take twice as long to fledge," the RSPB said.
"Relief can only come if we reduce the amount of water we use in our homes."
One of the areas badly affected is Northward Hill reserve in north Kent.
Reserves manager Alan Johnson said: "Northward Hill does not look like a wetland now but a bunch of very dry fields.
"Lapwing numbers have halved this year and could be close to zero this summer.
"Even if it rains for the next two weeks it is definitely too late for birds to breed in any number."
Pool and spring water is also drying up at Pulborough Brooks in West Sussex.
"Some birds may not be in a good enough condition to lay eggs now because the site is too dry," said warden Pete Hughes.
Worst affected is Elmley Marshes on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent which is one of the most important reserves for breeding waders in the South East.
"The prospects for the spring are very bleak.
"What should be a sparkling water-filled oasis is dry and barren," said warden Barry O'Dowd.
The RSPB's senior water policy officer Phil Burston said drought in the south east is severely affecting some of the region's finest wetland sites and already uncommon wildlife.
He said: "The time to act is now because the situation has become desperate".