Woodlarks in Britain - A Recent Success Story
Summary from Bird Study
24th September 1996
A national survey of Woodlarks, conducted in 1986 by the British Trust for Ornithology, reported in the latest issue of Bird Study (43, 172-187) found that there were only 250 pairs left. These were concentrated in five regions - South-West England, the general area of the New Forest, the Surrey and Hampshire heaths, Breckland and the Suffolk Coast.
Humphrey Sitters and his five co-authors were delighted to report that the population had increased to about 600 pairs by 1993. The biggest increases came from the Suffolk Coast in both forestry plantations and on heathland and in Breckland on plantations. These increases have been helped by storm damage and by clear felling, replanting and careful conservation management. This is really good new for the Woodlark is one of our most attractive songsters and, at one stage, it seemed that the species might be facing extinction in Britain. Only 50 years ago it bred over most of Wales and the Southern half of England.
Many of the Woodlarks from Breckland sites are colour ringed and there have been sightings in various parts of the country showing birds shifting breeding areas and giving some inkling of winter movements. If you are lucky enough to come across a Woodlark, report any colour rings to the Ringing Office at the BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 2PU. Woodlarks are very short tailed and quite a lot tweedier than the much more common Skylark. However in autumn many Skylarks are very tweedy as they are in their juvenile plumage and all Skylarks (and Woodlarks) undergo a complete moult so they lose their tail feathers and regrow them. Beware the Sky masquerading as the Wood!