Wildlife on West Common

 

Though perhaps best known for its racecourse, sports pitches, or as a scenic viewpoint for Lincoln Cathedral, West Common’s more discreet assets are perhaps more valued by wildlife enthusiasts.

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Shrubbery on West Common.

The heritage of the common is closely entwined with the city of Lincoln’s industrial history which, in the early 20th century, specialised in the manufacturing of aeroplanes.

Where tennis courts now stand, its grounds were previously in use as an Airplane Acceptance Park, as designated by the government during the First World War.

Nowadays, however, you are much more likely to see skylarks hovering in the area than military aircraft.

As spring emerges, these are likely to become increasingly conspicuous, largely thanks to their singing.

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A perched skylark. Photo by Funk Dooby Flickr.

This singing is most noticeable between the months of April and August, when the birds focus their attention on mating.

Such singing is audible in this clip, which was taken in Scotland in 2007:

Male skylarks use singing to attract potential mates, by doing so demonstrating their fitness to potential mates.

In part because of their height from the ground, and also their size – less than 20cm in length – skylarks are not easily recognisable to human eyes.

They are, however, very loud. High-pitched squawks thunder from the birds, much more piercingly than their size should allow.

These tunes alert females to their presence who, once pregnant, are responsible for the rearing of their chicks.

Interestingly, skylarks nest their eggs on the ground, where they are positioned amongst shrubbery in order to remain hidden from potential predators, such as foxes.

These are not, however, the lone inhabitants of West Common.

As soon as you enter the common from Carholme Road, horses from the Park Riding School are seen grazing on the grassland, which now accommodates a football pitch.

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Horses from the Park Riding School seen in the distance.

To the south of the common runs the Fossdyke Canal, which accommodates Lincoln’s celebrated swans as well as fish such as bream, pike, and perch.

In addition to the opportunity to spot some of these creatures, the approaching appeal of spring makes a walk under the sun a necessity.

Article by Robin

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