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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

09 March, 2016

Skylark: praise from the meadow





March can seem like one fine day followed by four or more less kind. If you go up on to the Dorset sea cliffs or the Purbeck Ridge on one of those lovely March days not only are you rewarded with the most wonderful of views but you will also be serenaded by the joyful song of the skylark (Alauda arvensis).
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 skylark's scientific name, Alauda arvensis, means the 'praise from the meadow' ... room for a bit of emotion in science perhaps? I love the song of the skylark; 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, dogs, 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.
Skylark: praise from the meadow