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A once common farmland bird that has diminished in numbers considerably. Noted for its wonderful song.

Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

The sound of the skylark singing in the Dorset countryside was a once common occurrence but, sadly, like so many birds the skylark has now all but gone from farmland and is now found mainly on open downland where farming is not possible. There are still breeding locations in Dorset but the skylark is now more common in winter when the local population is boosted by the arrival of birds from further north. The skylark is not a greatly mobile species but those nesting in upland areas in northern Britain are forced to move to lowland and more southerly areas as the winter sets in.

Despite being a breeding species here in Dorset the weekly reports chart shows virtually no reports in June, July and August and this I think shows how scarce it has become although the places it is likely to breed are, perhaps, not the sites most watched in summer so some care should be exercised before jumping to conclusions. October is certainly the best month for reports which reflect the autumnal movement and March sees an increase too which will, presumably, be the return migration. Certainly, February and March are probably the best months to hear them sing and this may also account for the surge in reports.

The most reports come from Durlston Country Park, Ferrybridge and Portland where the habitat suits them best and some may breed in these areas but I can't help thinking there would be more summer reports if they did. The distribution map shows how widespread the reports are but the vast majority of the sites have just a single report in the two years of data, 2017 and 2018.

In my experience I would say Portland Bill in March is the most reliable spot to see them if you want to add them to your Dorset list.


Common Name Skylark
Scientific Name Alauda arvensis
Species Group Birds Flycatchers and Larks
Status Occasional
Interest Level
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Look for

The sound of its song coming from high above you

Identification Notes
  • Now gone from much of the farmland in Dorset and found mainly on the open downs
  • In spring the male ascends vertically into the air singing as it goes 
  • Rarely seen on the ground because of the choice of location of their nests
Primary Habitat
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Birds Flycatchers and Larks