ARCHIVE: Set-aside and Environmental Benefits

Skylarks

slark.jpg (6052 bytes)

Skylarks tend to like the same types of land and features as game birds as described above.

The Skylark is a bird of open habitats such as heathland, grassland, dunes and saltmarsh, and is characteristic of arable habitats in East Anglia. Although still common, it has undergone a large decline in recent years. Factors thought to be causing this decline include

  • Intensive management of arable fields has reduced broad-leaved weed seeds and insect prey through the use of agrochemicals.

  • Increased autumn-sown cereals has reduced the number of winter stubble fields.

  • Intensive management of grasslands and high stocking rates.

  • Early silage cutting, which destroys nests and exposes Skylarks to predators.

Skylarks tend to feed amongst short vegetation and nests on the ground. Evidence suggests that they prefer to forage in fields with low ground cover.

They tend to form flocks in winter feeding on split cereal grains, larger dicotyledonous weed seeds and cereal leaves. These are all found in abundance in cereal stubbles. Consequently, set-aside land which has been left to regenerate from cereals stubbles will provide a rich feeding ground.

The Skylark is protected under the EC Birds Directive and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

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