Plots to save the skylark

By Earth Trust

The sights and sounds of skylarks

You will usually hear a skylark before you see it, with the males often hovering high up in the sky as they sing. Many people associate the skylark’s song with the sounds of spring and summer, and it has inspired many a poet and musician. Skylarks are just slightly smaller than starlings, and on the ground can appear as relatively unassuming brown birds. When they’re alert however, their characteristic crest appears.

A young skylark

Farming and skylarks

In the UK, the single most important habitat for us to work with is farmland because it covers such a vast area. And, according to the RSPB, more than two-thirds of skylarks are found on lowland farmland, with nearly 40% in cereal fields like wheat. In the second half of the 20th century, agriculture developed rapidly, and to become more efficient, fields were made larger and crops more densely grown. However, this has had a devastating effect on skylarks, with estimates that their population has halved since the early 1980s. Skylarks nest on the ground in amongst the crops, and these changes have made this much more difficult. Finding enough insects to feed on has also become much tougher.

At Earth Trust

To support our skylark populations, we create 20m² ‘undrilled’ patches in cultivated fields. Known as skylark plots, they give skylarks somewhere easier to land, as they can touch down on the bare ground before heading into the crop to find their nest. This also helps to keep the location of their nest secret from predators. To make sure that the plots can support breeding skylarks, we spread the patches out across each field, enabling the birds to forage for food over a larger area. This is just one of the ways that Earth Trust stands up for nature.

Why not celebrate Earth Day this year with a walk in nature? Listen for a few minutes and you might just hear these wonderful birds!

 

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