The Devils of the beach

Not many years ago winter was the time you could easily see Shorelark in Norfolk; regular immigrants from the north. Now they are few and far between.

We searched for three reported on the shingle beach the other week. Bob saw them first and alerted me to something flying our way. Dog Walkers had flushed them from further down the foreshore. Even in flight the yellow and black faces practically shone in the low December sunshine. Luckily they landed nearby and ran into cover among the Marram.

With a little care we approached them and as we sat low and waited they eventually started to move our way. Shorelarks are normally a shy bird easily put to the air but one in particular favoured our company.

Those tiny ‘horns’ give the bird its American name of Horned Lark. I remember seeing a Shore/Horned Lark on Tresco in the Isles of Scilly one October. I think it was October 2001. I seem to remember it was quite long billed and differed slightly in its face, head, tertial and covert patterns and was thought by many to have been a Horned Lark. It has to be said there are so many races on both side of the Atlantic, all ever so slightly different; so assigning an individual to race outside of its normal range is often less than straightforward.


2 Responses to “The Devils of the beach”

  1. 1 John
    Dec 14, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Carl why so scarce now I just used to go to Holkham and watch them and Snowbuntings they were a definite tick. What has happened?

    • Dec 14, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      It may be cyclical John; a population waning and waxing. It may be something to do with temperature changes on their breeding grounds affecting food source or it maybe something else. In truth I just don’t know. The only thing I do know is they are much missed.

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Dec 2013


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