14/09/18 Article in Malvern Gazette following press release (click to read)
7/09/18 BBC Hereford and Worcester radio interview recorded on the Northern Malvern Hills in previous skylark territory on the impact of the tight grazing regime.
Article in the Malvern Gazette on 24/10/2017.
Have written in response:
The article in last week’s Malvern Gazette missed some important points. Firstly we lost our last skylark on the high hills two years ago in 2015 and have just 9 pairs breeding on the commons. In 1998 we had 54 pairs. While Malvern’s skylarks have declined alarmingly, on nearby Bredon Hill a conservation project has tripled the number of skylarks in 10 years to 44 pairs – proving beyond doubt that creating the right conditions can bring skylarks back even if there is a national decline and of course it becomes more important because of that decline. So whatever the Malvern Hills Trust has been doing to “benefit skylarks” it has certainly not worked. What did they do at Bredon? Simply let the grass grow longer rather than graze it intensively as on the Malverns. The manager there talks enthusiastically of the benefits to other species including brown butterflies and grasshoppers.
The evidence from Bredon Hill, from nearby Clee Hill, from latest research, a map of current territories and evidence of how reduced grazing will not lead to unmanageable scrub is all on the website www.malvernskylarks.org which has been reviewed by RSPB conservation experts for accuracy. You can also hear the wonderful sound of a skylark singing there and add your support. All the research and experts are very clear that there is no chance of skylarks returning where the grass is short and it is not credible for the Malvern Hills Trust to claim other measures will suffice when they clearly haven’t.
This could so easily be a success story and we have asked MHDC Council members and Malvern Hills Trustees to be a part of it, specifically by placing this as an agenda item at the next Council and Trust meetings.
Save our Malvern Skylarks Coordinator
We have written to Malvern Hills District Councillors and Malvern Hills Trust Trustees and Officers asking for their support and specifically for both bodies to place this issue on their forthcoming meeting agenda:
“Dear Malvern Hills District Councillors,
As we are about to celebrate a magnificent new sculpture of the lark ascending in Rose Bank Gardens the sad fact is that skylarks have disappeared from the high hills after the last lark sang over North Hill in the summer of 2015 and the current too-tight grazing regime means they will not return. We have 9 territories remaining on the lower commons and they must also be seen as vulnerable.
I am a member of the Malvern Bird Group which has monitored the status of skylarks on the hills from their peak in the late 80s to today. Since 2015 I have been presenting evidence to the Conservators (now Trust) to demonstrate that a small change in the regime would benefit skylarks and other species and not lead to scrub incursion. A project in Bredon Hill resulted in a big increase in skylarks at the same time as Malvern’s have disappeared. We fully acknowledge that the Trust has a challenging job but whilst discussions have been cordial no change has resulted, so have gathered support for our campaign to save Malvern’s skylarks. The case and the change we are seeking are presented in our website.
As things stand however the lark ascending sculpture will be more in the way of a memorial than the celebration of the blithe spirit that has been so much a part of Malvern’s history. Yet it would take very little to make it possible for our skylarks to return to the high hills and strengthen their hold on the commons. We would like to invite council members to be a part of this future success, specifically by placing this as an agenda item at the next council meeting and making views known to Malvern Hills Trust. Campaign members are available for any support that would be helpful.
(a version of this email is being sent to Malvern Hills Trustees and Officers)”