Scrubby heathland can be a hot, dusty and difficult place to work but it holds some very special birds, including Tree Pipit and Woodlark. These two species can be a challenge for the nest recorder, wary around the nest and usually nesting in wide areas of uniform habitat. This means watching from a distance when off-nest birds return (visits to the nest can be 40 minutes or more apart, even when feeding chicks) in the hope of pinning down the nest location.
|Woodlark nesting habitat in Surrey|
There is a crucial moment where she reappears from behind a tussock without the food she was carrying, a decent indication that she has visited a nest and fed chicks. We give it a few more moments and then walk towards the point. One of the difficulties of watching birds back is that distances are foreshortened and two tussocks which might seem close together turn out to be many feet apart. With Tony watching for a different angle, we are able to narrow the search down to a few feet of heather. Even so, the nest is well hidden (see below).
|Woodlark nest - can't you see it?|
|Woodlark nest with young|