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Skylarks soar to success

Skylarks are soaring to success in the skies above St Davids airfield, Pembrokeshire.

Since the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority purchased the former military airfield eight years ago, skylark numbers there have more than doubled to 65 pairs, as recent surveys have found.

This is thanks to the restoration of traditional grassland management which benefits the skylarks.

When monitoring began in 1998 - carried out by former RSPB warden Ian Bullock - there were just 30 skylark pairs recorded. This figure has risen to 65 this year, said the Park Authority’s Conservation Team Leader, Mike Howe.

“The number of pairs has gone up by ten in the last 12 months,” added Mike, “the best seasonal total since monitoring was introduced. This represents a huge increase in the breeding population since the Authority purchased the site and began to manage the grassland as traditional hay meadows, in partnership with local farmer Haydn Vaughan.

“Since that time we have achieved organic status for the grassland and undergo annual inspections by the Soil Association, which has been impressed by our management.”

Mike said that skylarks and other ground nesting birds had suffered huge declines over the past 50 years as hay meadow management gave way to silage production.

“Our work has shown how more traditional farming practices can benefit wildlife greatly, and our challenge is to find ways for farmers to return to this kind of management without compromising their incomes.

“We are very grateful to Ian Bullock for all his work on this programme which has provided us with such encouraging data.”

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Archive News

You can view any of our previous news stories, click on the 'archive news' link on the left.
Previous news stories include:
  • Pembrokeshire needs more holes - BTO’s Nest box week
  • Ferry Good Survey - Sea Trust of South and West Wales.
  • Countryside Management Skills Training Grants
  • Pembrokeshire’s Biodiversity Gathering