Skylark (Alauda arvensis)

February seems like one fine day followed by four or more far less kind. If you go up on to the Dorset sea cliffs or the Purbeck Ridge on one of those better February days not only are you rewarded with the most wonderful of views but you will also be serenaded by the song of the Skylark.

I am not too good on Latin but 'laud' means to praise and 'arvensis' means 'of the field' so I like to think that the Skylarks scientific name, Alauda arvensis, means the 'praise from the meadows' ... room for a bit of emotion in science perhaps?

I love the Skylark's song. They always seem so enthusiastic and so happy with life. Nature holds many joys for me and the Skylark's song is certainly up there near the top.

Sadly, this once common bird has diminished in numbers considerably in the last thirty years or so. It is certainly vulnerable to disturbance and, as it nests on the ground, its young are prone to accidental trampling by people, tractors and cattle but this would not account for the current decline. This is almost certainly down to less insects to feed to its young due the amount of insecticide used in crop sprays.

This trend in farmland bird populations is a familiar one. You can wipe a population out very quickly but it takes decades to build up a new one.

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