Effingham Parish Council (EPC) has released the following Press Release regarding Skylarks on the Effingham Lodge Farm (ELF) site (below). It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to intentionally disturb nesting birds. Infringements can result in fines and/or imprisonment, further details on the RSPB website here
Skylarks, which are on the RSPB red list, have been heard singing recently on Effingham Lodge Farm. However, this area of grassland is currently scheduled to be developed with a new school and 159 new houses with the development due to start shortly, whilst the birds are nesting.
If this happened the birds could be frightened off leading to additional pressure on this endangered songbird. Skylarks are ground nesting birds which raise several broods between April and August favouring habitats such as that currently available on Effingham Lodge Farm.
Local people may recall that a key subject of evidence at the Howard of Effingham / Berkeley Homes appeal related to the loss of habitat and that a particular incident was reported in the Guildford Dragon (see editor’s notes below).
Effingham Parish Council (EPC) on receiving reports from residents of the birds nesting has sought and received confirmation following a visit from a local branch member of the RSPB. EPC has alerted both Guildford Borough Council and David Gilchrist (director of Berkeley Homes) that activity on Effingham Lodge Farm at the present time could be a danger to the breeding success of this endangered songster.
EPC has received assurances from Rob Holmes, Berkeley Homes (BH) Project Director for the Effingham Development, that BH have conducted an initial investigation and have sent an email to reassure the council that enabling works are sited away from the areas where the skylarks are possibly nesting. They have also confirmed that they will have an ecologist on site when grass cutting activities are undertaken.
Skylarks are recognised by their incredible song which residents may hear if walking along Lower Road, Effingham Common Road or the footpath alongside The Vineries. Any intentional disturbance to the Skylarks (or for that matter any bird) during the nesting season is an offence under wildlife and countryside legislation and should be reported to the police as soon as possible.
Additionally, we would ask any resident who observes any behaviour which may be a threat to this important part of our local biodiversity, to report (with photographic evidence if possible) to the parish clerk.
Ian Symes, Chairman of Effingham Parish Council said “the song of the Skylark signifies the coming of summer. The skylark used to be a common sight in the countryside but is now on the RSPB red list of endangered birds. I do hope that Berkeley Homes and the Howard of Effingham School will allow them one final breeding season on Effingham Lodge Farm”.
To hear a recording of the song and learn more about the Skylark on the RSPB website at https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/skylark/