This evening saw the KOS hold it's A.G.M. As part of the meeting I gave a brief talk on the changes of birds during the half a century or more I've been birding. Three of the species that got a mention were very evident at Bockhill this morning.
The LBJ trio started with the Skylark. The "big-field" is seeded with grass for silage and seems to be full of Skylarks this year. Flying Skylarks are hard enough to follow by eye, and I've tried loads of time to get pictures of them either on the way up or on the way down. The bird above is singing it's heart out as it rises in the air.
The number of Skylarks at Bockhill seems pretty good, although I don't have comparative data from past years to go on. Overall this is a species giving some concern about it status as the numbers have dropped over the years.
The main reasons for the reduction in their numbers seems to be the changes in crop regimes on farms. Winter sowing means that the crops are to high for nesting in the spring and it is more difficult for the adults to find insects to feed their young. In addition they feed on seeds in winter and the lack of stubble fields reduces the food supply. This makes the provision of set-a-side very important.
The second bird in this group is the Meadow Pipit. Although the song is not as long as the Skylarks and not as tuneful as the Tree Pipit, it is one of my favourites, I love the way it climbs in the air slowly and them parachutes down on half open wings as it's song accelerates into a series of trills.Although it is still a common species the numbers have suffered a decline and in Kent it is seldom found breeding far away from the coast.
Like the Skylark it is a ground nester and needs suitable sites to breed. I have found several nests in the past on river walls, and one of the problems was the river authorities in appropriate timing of their grass cutting regime. It always seemed to be at the worst time for butterflies, birds and other wildlife. One benefit of the recession could be the reduction of such obsessive tidying up.
The last of these three plain looking birds is the Corn Bunting. One was singing at the end of the Freedown as I walked round, and then one was singing on the cliff top. Jack, who had been watching this bird said that both were the same bird, that was flying to several song posts, as if as yet unsure of where it was setting up it's territory. The area is large enough for two pairs, and last year there were indeed to males holding territory. Unlike the preceding two species the Corn Bunting is not an habitual singer in flight, but occasional it does sing as it moves between song posts.