Rare bird makes welcome return to park

A PUBLIC park has welcomed an old friend back after a 30 year absence.

A PUBLIC park has welcomed an old friend back after a 30 year absence.

The skylark has made a surprising reappearance at Landseer Park in Ipswich, despite numbers nationally being in steep decline.

The unexpected comeback is largely due to a change in the way the park is looked after. Instead of cutting the grass every two weeks, park rangers have left it to grow long, which helps to support insects and consequently attracts birds, such as the skylark.

The skylark population in the UK dropped by more than half between 1969 and 1991 and the bird is currently on the RSPB's red list of conservation concerns.

Changes in modern agriculture mean there are less nesting sites and insects for the species. Skylarks are a ground nesting bird and often struggle to raise successful broods, as their nests are incredibly vulnerable to disturbance.

Joe Underwood, a council wildlife and education ranger, urged people to be aware of the animals and birds they share the park with.

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Mr Underwood said: “We would like to encourage joggers to stick to the cut paths and dog owners to keep their pets under close control or on a lead to prevent disturbance to these birds.”

The good news doesn't stop there as the newly created meadow on Landseer Park provides habitat and food for other birds.

Linnets have the same status and protection as skylarks with an action plan of their own.

They feed almost exclusively on the seeds of wildflowers and grasses, making the newly created meadow a very attractive place for them.

Mr Underwood said: “We have now started planting gorse thickets to try and encourage the linnets to stay and breed in the park and are finding other species such as warblers are also benefiting from improved surroundings.”

For more information about this project or any other on a town park or open space, contact the wildlife rangers on 01473 433993 or e mail park.rangers@ipswich.gov.uk.

Should more be done to protect endangered wildlife in Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The skylark is a small brown bird, somewhat larger than a sparrow but smaller than a starling.

It is streaky brown with a white sided tail and a small crest which can be raised when the bird is excited or alarmed. The wings also have a white rear edge, visible in flight.

It is renowned for its vertical display flight.

The skylark's recent and dramatic population decline make it a red list species.

Source: rspb.org.uk

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