Skylark and dogs can mix!

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On Saturday 15 March 19 people – and several dogs – took a closer look at the area of Wanstead Flats where Skylarks and Meadow Pipits build their nests and raise their young every year. Epping Forest keeper Thibaud Madelin and the Wren Group’s Tim Harris walked slowly along the main paths that dissect the area between Centre Road and the football pitches to the east. We stopped frequently to watch song-flighting larks and displaying pipits. Various aspects of the birds’ life-histories were discussed and, thankfully, when the sun came out they put on a good show. Early indications are that there could be at least as many territories as last summer but any number of things – not least poor weather and disturbance – could still spoil things.

The main message that Tim and Thibaud got across was that responsible dog care, which means sticking to the main paths and keeping dogs on the leash in the area of long grass east of Centre Road, can make a difference when it comes to these ground-nesting birds successfully raising young. If we lose the Skylarks and Meadow Pipits from the Flats we’ll all be the poorer. The City of London Corporation has assisted this effort with the provision of posts around the site – and in the next week there will be information signs as well.

Photo: Kathy Hartnett