Save our Skylarks!

The Wren Group, in conjunction with the City of London, has produced a new leaflet explaining the key role that dog-walkers can play in conserving our valuable breeding population of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits. Wanstead Flats has the only significant populations of these ground-nesting birds within a seven-mile radius of the centre of London, but the numbers are becoming alarmingly small. Everyone agrees it is important that we do everything in our power to keep these songsters in our manor. Disturbance during the breeding season, between the beginning of March and August, could reduce the number of young our ground-nesting birds manage to raise. Since the life expectancy of a Skylark is just two years on average, our population could disappear if breeding productivity is low. Dog-walkers are sometimes unaware that when Rover or Scruffy charges through the areas of long grass to the east of Centre Road, or just south of Alexandra Lake, he or she could be inadvertently disturbing a female Skylark on the nest or a brood of Meadow Pipit chicks. For this reason, dog-walkers are being asked to keep their dogs on the leash and on the paths running through the signed long-grass area during the breeding season.

A group of Skylark-friendly dog-walkers are handing out the leaflets to explain the campaign. In addition, on Saturdays 1 March, 15 March and 29 March there will be a walkover of the area where the Skylarks nest to show dog-walkers what they look and sound like. Forest keeper Thibaud Madelin and members of the Wren Group will lead the walks. Meet at the Centre Road car park at 10:00. The walks will last for about an hour.

If you would like some leaflets, please text Tim on 07505 482328

Photos: responsible dog-walker Nayna with her dog Casper (T Harris); Skylark (J Lethbridge)