The Skylark is a small, streaked brown bird, larger than a sparrow but smaller than a Starling. They are a ground-nesting bird, which breed from March to September.
Due to pressure from increasing visitor numbers and notably from dogs not being kept under control, the Skylark population within Richmond Park and Bushy Park has declined rapidly over the last 5 years.
It is predicted that without urgent action, this species may be lost from the park. This would result in the loss of one of the closest populations of Skylark to central London.
To reduce the impacts on ground-nesting birds such as the Skylark, we require all visitors with dogs to keep them on a short lead and to stay on the paths during the nesting season (March – September) when walking through:
- Lawn Field and Crown Field in Richmond Park
- Hare Warren (to the north of the Royal Paddocks) in Bushy Park
Notices will be installed at the entrances to the 'dogs on leads' zones.
The Skylark is a fully protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), which makes it an offence to kill, injure or take an adult Skylark, or to take, damage or destroy an active nest or its contents.
Any person found to be contravening these notices or contravening the Wildlife & Countryside Act could be liable for prosecution by order of the Secretary of State.
The Skylark is a small, streaked brown bird, larger than a sparrow but smaller than a Starling. It has a white-sided tail and the rear edge of the wing is also white and visible in flight. The Skylark has a small crest that is often raised when the bird is excited or alarmed.
These ground-nesting birds will breed from March to September and advertise their territories by a spectacular song-flight, during which the bird rises almost vertically with rapid wing-beats, hovering for several minutes and then parachuting down. Song flights of up to one hour have been recorded, and the birds can reach 1,000 feet before descending.