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North Merseyside Biodiversity Action Plan
Skylark Alauda arvensis
1 Current status
The Skylark is amongst the most widespread of open country breeding birds with an estimated UK population of 1,785,000 pairs in 2000. Up to 25 million northern European birds may join the UK residents in winter. Nonetheless, the UK breeding population is in sharp decline. Numbers on lowland farms fell by 75% between 1972-1996. Recent studies indicate similarly steep declines in upland habitats. The overall UK population declined by 53% between 1970 and 2005 and by 15% between 1994 and 2006.
The Skylark is a Priority Species in the UK BAP on account of its declining
Skylarks continue to breed throughout North Merseyside wherever suitable habitat remains and are absent only from the most heavily built-up areas.
Breeding was confirmed in 109 tetrads (78%) in 14 10km squares in 1997-2000. The breeding population in 1997-2000 was at least 750 pairs, roughly 0.5% of the UK population. (Knowsley = 130, Liverpool = 75, Sefton = 300, St. Helens = 250). They breed at an average density of about 1.5 pairs per square kilometre – similar to Lancashire as a whole. The extent of recent decline in North Merseyside is not known but it probably reflects the national situation.
The Sefton Coast between Blundellsands and Cabin Hill NNR supports densities of up to 37 pairs per square km – amongst the highest known in the UK lowlands. Farmland around Rainford also supports above average densities (up to 8 pairs per square km). Smaller, but still notable densities are found in Speke/Garston, Tarbock and farmland between St. Helens and Kirkby. Small populations persist in urban areas including at Otterspool and the Rimrose Valley.
Large winter concentrations occur on stubble fields, saltmarshes and strandlines.