Woodlark – 1894

Alauda arborea – Resident, but scarce and local. Has been much persecuted by birdcatchers.

The Rev. C. M. Phelps only once saw a Woodlark in the neighbourhood of Tenby. Mr. Tracy says it was common in his day around Pembroke. We had none nesting in our fields at Stone Hall, where we only saw it in small flocks in the winter months. We once saw a flock consisting of about thirty in a small furze brake. A few pairs were reported as nesting between Letterstone and Fishguard, but the whole time we were in the county we never once heard the song of this bird, and as we were constantly driving about during the summer we must have done so had any been in the district. We believe that it has become much more scarce since Mr. Tracy and Mr. Dix penned their notes upon the birds of the county.

Writing in 1866, Mr. Dix could then say of the Woodlark that it was “very generally distributed, and a constant resident. It is an early breeder. I saw a young one that could fly in the beginning of May, and I have every reason to believe there was a second brood, for in July four more young ones appeared, and they are now generally in the same locality with the old birds. They are now in small flocks of eight or ten apparently family parties. During the severe weather last February a flock of five came into the yard, feeding by the stable-doors and in the cattle yards ; they were very tame, often allowing me to get within four or five yards of them. I have heard this bird singing every month throughout the year.”

The local birdcatchers used to obtain 36s. a dozen for fresh caught Woodlaiks, hens and cocks taken together, so it is no wonder that they sought after them persistently, and have nearly obliterated this sweet songster from our county list.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Woodlark in Pembrokshire