One of the unintentional benefits of the lockdown is the drastic reduction of dogs running off lead and uncontrolled through the dunes.
There I’ve said it.
And so have the ground-nesting birds that fail every year because our “four-legged friends” are “just having a good run” all over the place.
Fewer “barker’s eggs” too, which is another plus.
Before the howls of protest, I should point out I actually like dogs, even counting Stanley the Alsatian among my closest friends. I just wish more owners would remember that the coastline is largely a Site of Special Scientific Interest first and foremost rather than a dog adventure playground.
The enforced quietness means some ground-nesting species like Skylarks that frequently fail because of repeated disturbance and/or predation are setting up territories in areas where I’ve not noticed them before.
One “new” pair is close to the office and I watched the female trundling down a narrow track through Creeping Willow and Marram in the sun for awhile today, while the male sang up in the blue nearby.
She was feeding, but for a minute or two she froze and hunkered down on the path, as if prospecting this quite unsuitable site as a nesting spot, while keeping a beady eye on me the whole time.
Then she thought better of it and hurried off.
I once watched a Temminck’s Horned Lark doing much the same thing in Morocco, but that was a different universe and a very different time.
Lark guru Ian Wolfenden may be able to explain the behaviour – I don’t think it was distraction, as she carried on feeding close by as I walked past.
I was just grateful for the fleeting moments of escape.
Don’t forget to keep on letting me know what you’re seeing on your daily exercise walk, or in the garden or park, spring is still springing after all…