The streaky-brown plumage of this attractive lark can be a tricky ID challenge, but there are a number of points to look for if you’re lucky enough to get a close view. Let’s take a closer look at Kiersten’s latest images of another of our local, year-long resident species…
The Woodlark Lullula arborea is a bird of open woodland, occurring in stands of pine trees, mixed or broadleaved forest and bushy heathland. The views we have for you today are typical – the bird spends much of its time on or near the ground, foraging for insects and small seeds in short grass and clearings. Widespread over much of Europe, northern and eastern populations tend to be migratory and often spend the colder months of the year around the Mediterranean and in north Africa.
The Woodlark has red-brown cheeks, and tan and black stripes on its cap. Note also the dark streaks on its whitish chest, and the uniformly pale belly. There are more black streaks on its warm, buff-brown back and a distinctive black and white patch on the outer edge of the wing…not really visible in the shots we have here, but a great help when it comes to identification.
While Thekla and Crested Larks have very obvious, pointed crests many other species in the family also have shorter, stubby crests. Another useful detail to look for, and even in silhouette the partially raised feathers – nicely illustrated below – can help narrow down the list of possibilities in the field.
A number of woodland species also have quite distinct stripes or “supercilia” over the eye but in the Woodlark they join characteristically on the back of the neck. While a view of the back of a bird is not always a huge help Kiersten captured this key point of detail perfectly in the last of today’s images, neatly putting its ID beyond any doubt.
With a quite limited distribution mainly in the south of the UK, the Woodlark is always a nice tick for British birders and it’s great to have this pretty little species on the month-list again. We run regular birdwatching trips and holidays down here in southern Spain and if you’d like to join us you’ll find all the information you need right here. For all our latest birding news and trip reports, please keep reading our posts!