Protecting the Skylarks in 2014
For the last couple of years the Wren Conservation Group have been working in conjunction with the City of London Corporation trying to protect the Skylark population of Wanstead Flats. Almost certainly it was members of the Wren Group that brought fully to the attention of the Conservators of Epping Forest that not only did we have a significant breeding population of Skylarks but that the numbers appeared to be decreasing.
Those trends had become clear because of surveys carried out by members of the Wren Group under the auspices of Tim Harris over several years. Each year there has been a decline in numbers of potential breeding birds. It remains unclear exactly why this decrease is happening, but an important factor may be the levels of disturbance that the birds must be subject to.
One form of disturbance that might be addressed could be in bringing to the attention of dog-owners that their dog running through the rough grassland could disturb ground-nesting birds such as the Skylark and Meadow Pipits.
Notices have been put up on posts around the edge of nesting-areas in past years asking that dogs could be kept from running loose in these areas during the breeding season - that is between the beginning of March and August.
This year, Tim Harris and Forest Keeper Thibaud Madelin are doing three Saturday morning walks aimed at finding out about our local Skylarks and how we might protect them. These are on1st, 15th and 29th March, meeting at Centre Road Car Park at 10am and aiming to finish at 11.30am.
The Wren Group in conjunction with the City of London have produced a leaflet, shown below and downloadable here (in pdf. format)
Check also the Wren Group's website, here
There is another article relating to the Skylarks here
Paul Ferris, 21st February 2014