Posted by: lhct | March 16, 2021

Nesting skylarks alert

We are protecting and encouraging Chesworth skylarks to nest and rear young in Gravel Pit and Spring Barn fields.

It always lifts the spirits to hear skylarks over Chesworth Farm’s pastures as the weather improves, and this spring more than most of course. Sadly over 75 per cent of the skylark population has been lost over the last 50 years, mainly through changes to farming practices. So we are doing our best to protect and encourage them.

They are drawn to open spaces such as arable fields and moorland, and so their scientific name is very apt: Alauda arvensis or “Lark of the fields”. Their song, with its fluting melodies, is delivered during a soaring flight. This has evolved from the skylarks’ preference for open, largely tree-less, habitats, with few natural song-posts to sing from. As ground-nesting species, their nests are vulnerable to being trampled, especially when in the short sward of grassland.

An advantage is that the time taken from incubation to fledging is comparatively short, around 14 days in total. So the adult birds may raise two or three broods if the conditions are favourable. Chesworth Farm’s traditional management of cutting late in the season and removing the cuttings keeps pastures attractive for these iconic birds.

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