EVERY WEEK THIS YEAR WE WILL HAVE NEW SUGGESTIONS FOR A DIFFERENT GROUP OF BIRDS TO LOOK FOR TO HELP DEVELOP YOUR #MY200BIRDYEAR LIST
This week, it is Larks
There are three regular lark species in the UK: Sky Lark, Wood Lark and Shore Lark. Sky Lark is a very common bird (1.5 million pairs) of open countryside of all types, Wood Lark is a relatively scarce and localised breeder (3K breeding pairs) and the Shore Lark is a scarce wintering bird.
Big and chunky, the Sky lark is the ‘next size up’ from Meadow Pipit, being closer to the size of a Starling. These are the larks you here pouring out their endless twittering, warbling rapid-fire song from a high-altitude song-flight hover. They are robust, heavy birds with a slight crest and almost triangular wings with white trailing edges and white outer tail feathers. The call is a delightful bubbly chirrup, which some find more pleasing to the ear than the endless song.
A breeding bird at isolated suitable heathy habitats with scattered trees in the southern half the country, particularly in places like the New Forest or the East Anglian heaths. Similar to the Sky Lark in appearance, apart from with a notably shorter tail, more prominent, extended supercilia (pale ‘eyebrows’), which ‘meet’ on the nape. Lakes pale trailing edge to more rounded wings and white outertail feathers, having instead white tips to the tail. Habitually sings from trees, overhead wires etc or in song-flight from a high perch. Song is aa delicious series of descending, fluty ‘lu lu lu lu’ phrases. Call is a soft ‘whistling yodel’.
A scarce winter visitor mainly to the east coast of England (with fewer than 100 birds in a typical winter), the Shore Lark is quite a different looking bird than the other larks. It is a quiet bird which shuffles along on coastal shingle or short vegetation picking for seeds. Most distinctive is its beautifully patterned black-and-yellow face. Sometimes you can see the little black crest spikes which give it its alternative name the Horned Lark.
All photos from Alamy