Over the past few weeks, we've been visited by a bird species that has not been recorded here for over a decade! A small flock of Skylarks has been seeing foraging in the Peninsula field and flying over our other habitats.
Skylarks are a demure ground nesting bird associated with open grassland and the countryside. However, since the 1970s their numbers have dramatically crashed in the UK, as much as 75 % (RSPB research). This is most likely to do with the intensification of agriculture and as a consequence, the changes in how grassland is managed.
So seeing them here at Castle Espie is very exciting. They've been seen flying and feeding together in small flocks of 5 -10 birds. Skylarks gather together is small flocks in the winter time for security from predators and help each other to look for food; more eyes makes life easier. They constantly keep in contact with each other with their little chirrup calls. In the breeding season, their display song is extraordinary; birds will fly high into the sky and sing incredibly complex songs for as long as possible. One of the most complex songs in the bird world. Not too bad for a bird slightly smaller than a Starling.
Check out the Peninsual Marsh/Field look out point to see if they are around on your visit.
Count was taken low tide.
Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory
Brent Geese c.450, Oystercatcher 10, Curlew 1, Little Egret 4, Black-tailed Godwit 2
Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor centre
Mallard 105, Tufted duck 16, Teal 33, Coot 3, Moorhen 2
Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor centre
Mallard 22, Teal 25, Greylag goose 2, Moorhen 6
Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide
Teal 8, Moorhen 5, Little Egret 1
Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannog
Mallard 9, Moorhen 3
Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory
Little Grebe 5, Curlew 1, Greenshank 2, Little Egret 1, Kingfisher 1
Blackbird, Song Thrush, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blue tit, Great tit, Coal tit, Long-tailed Tit, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Magpie, Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Woodpigeon