Saturday, 15 March 2014

It's a bit of a Lark

I caught up with the two Shore Larks on the beach, near the Chequers Pub along the Ancient Highway today.

They were quite elusive, and were best visible when standing on top of the ridge silhouetted with the misty sea in the background. I took this one, from behind as it will probably make an appearance in a future quiz.

Nice and easy to sea what it is when it turns its head. The foot path along the the beach top was reasonable busy with walkers and these two were quite wary of close approach, hence the rather distant pictures.

Shore larks are extremely widespread and there are a large number of subspecies, anything from 37 to 50 have been postulated. The race that we get here is  Eremophila alpestris flava. They migrate south from Scandinavia.

 Recent work has shown that there may be several species,at the moment six, but that includes just one for north America, where there are many sub-species and further work is still needed.

 The two birds often disappeared over the ridge and after waiting for then to reappear I would fin that they'd craftily move 30 or 40 yards and left me waiting for nothing.

 This one had a will marked facial mask and almost flew towards my as I lay among the wet pebbles and various bit of flotsam and jetsam hoping it would walk up to me.

 This is an American Horned Lark, (one I took in April last year in Colorado) but I'm not sure which of the subspecies. If the splits that have been recommended in the scientific paper are accepted this will be Eremophila alpestris and the one in Northern Europe Eremophila  flava. I did have a look at the paper, it's called "Limited Phylogeographic Signal in Sex-Linked and Autosomal Loci Despite Geographically, Ecologically, and Phenotypically Concordant Structure of mtDNA Variation in the Holarctic Avian Genus Eremophila" The authors are from Russia, Serbia and Norway, but it could be in double dutch as far as I'm concerned. The science of DNA is way beyond me!

I was pleased to see a couple of Grey Partridges in the field next to where I'd parked my car. We are lucky here, in many places they are not so easy to find.

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