Monday, 12 December 2016

Winter Woodlarks

I'm pretty certain that most woodlarks go undetected which is a pity of course. Apart from their distinctive song there is not much to draw the casual observer's attention unless they are viewed close up when the creamy supercilium can be seen extending round to the back of the head.
For anyone who is not sure what to look for: they are obviously lark-like in behaviour, usually in small flocks and often on the ground. They are distinctly smaller than skylarks and show a very short tail when they fly up, often silently. Usually they will settle again quickly but sometimes they will fly to an available tree.
I've seen a few small flocks recently including a dozen birds in the Bonnieure valley this afternoon and another ten near to my house. Also in the valley today was a flock of about fifty white wagtails feeding in a recently ploughed field. I was on my bike as usual and managed to clock up just over thirty species in a couple of hours, the most interesting of which (other than the woodlarks) was a single marsh tit near La Poterie.
The weather has been remarkably sunny and quite warm for the last three weeks or so but after the last flurry of autumn migration culminating in a substantial movement of cranes there has not been a great deal of note. Moreover, the unseasonal warmth has perhaps delayed the arrival of our winter visitors and I have yet to see redwing, fieldfare, brambling or siskin, and even lapwings have appeared in only small numbers.

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