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Science
NATURE
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Monday 21:00-21:30
Repeat Tuesday 11:00
Nature offers a window on global natural history, providing a unique insight into the natural world, the environment, and the magnificent creatures that inhabit it.
nhuradio@bbc.co.uk
LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 5 June
PRESENTER
BRETT WESTWOOD
Brett Westwood
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Monday 5 June 2006
Grant Sonnex in Bayou De View
Brett Westwood with two RSPB volunteers in a Skylark plot... © RSPB, 2006

The Lark Ascending

The skylark is one of our most well-known birds, celebrated by musicians and poets, and its soaring song-flight is a feature of open country everywhere in the British Isles. But skylark numbers have been plummeting over the last thirty years and we have lost over a million and half pairs from our cornfields and pastures.

In NATURE this week, Brett Westwood traces the history of this extrovert and yet secretive bird with the help of birder and historian Mark Cocker and skylark biologists Paul Donald and Tony Morris from the RSPB.

A Skylark. © RSPB, 2006While poets such as Shelley and Meredith were extolling the virtues of the lark's song, trade in skylarks for the pot was brisk, with up to 400,000 birds taken every year from the downs of south and east England.

The bird's most recent decline though has nothing to do with eating the birds, but is directly connected with the way we farm our countryside. Brett meets the RSPB researchers who have not only pinpointed the cause of the skylark's demise, but also an ingeniously simple solution to bring it back.
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