Shore Lark

Eremophila alpestris

14-17cm

Appearance

The Shore Lark is greyish brown on top with a faint pink tinge. It is whitish underneath except for a black throat and slightly buffish-streaked flanks. The face is yellow with a thick black line through the eye and down to the cheeks, and there's a black section on the crown that ends in 'horns'. In winter, the markings are duller and birds don't have the horns. Females are generally slightly duller than males, particularly on the head markings. Juveniles resemble adults, but their backs have whitish spots and the markings on their faces are more subtle.

Habitat

In the region, Shore Larks favour coastal habitats, particularly dunes, strand lines and short grassy areas close to the water. Breeding takes place in mountainous areas in the Arctic tundra.

Character

A well camouflaged bird who moves frequently in flocks in search of food. It eats on the ground in a hunched posture. Often socialises in flocks during winter, mixing with other species such as Lapland Buntings.

Food

Diet includes seeds and grain, and insects such as springtails, flies and beetles.

Breeding

A clutch of 3 or 4 eggs is laid and the female incubates them for about 10-11 days. Both adults tend to the hatchlings, which depart the nest at about 9-12 days old, though they don't fledge until 16-18 days. There are sometimes two broods raised.

Population

The Shore Lark is a winter visitor to the region, and its numbers are few. Majority of birds arrive around October and depart in March. Fewer than 100 Shore Larks spend winter in Britain each year.

Observation Tips

These birds are most thickly distributed along the east coast of England during winter. A visit to saltmarshes or other ideal habitats in East Anglia or Kent around November and December would offer the most promising conditions of the region.

Voice

During winter the Shore Lark has a piercing 'tsee-tsi' call. It also has a song that is usually given when in flight during breeding season: 'see-seer'.
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