Nesting skylarks

I work for a golf club which owns a large field, not used for golf at all, but which is mown a couple of times a year to keep it tidy.  But it has been left so long that it has become a wildflower meadow and home to lots of nesting skylarks.  The boss wants it cut now as he says there is ragwort in it (there isn't).  My view is that it is vandalism of the worst kind to mow but does anyone know how the law would stand on this?

  • Anonymous

    Hi Hev62

    This has been covered several times on this forum. I'll try to find one of the posts for you.

    Anyway, all wild birds in the UK are covered by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 with regards to protection from intentional harm and the damage and destruction of active nests. So it is illegal to intentionally disturb nesting birds.

    hope this helps


  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Thank you Pipit, I'm new to this so not sure where to find old bits of information. 

  • Anonymous


    Hi Hev62

    One of our very knowledgeable members , Buzzard, posted this a month or so ago -

    The Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 is one of the most important pieces of Wildlife legislation in this country.

    It states it is an offence to...

    Intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird

    Intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird
    while that nest is in use or being built


    Intentionally take or destroy an egg of any wild bird

    The following link will give you all the advice you need.

  • I would recommend leaving the cutting for at least another month, by mid July many of the 'in field' nesting species such as skylarks will have completed their breeding seasons so cutting after that time is best practice.

    We have some useful tips on managing such meadows on our website here. It might be worth printing the information off our website and highlighting the recommended cutting time to your boss as well as highlighting the legal aspect with regards to nesting birds.

    Warden Intern at Otmoor.

  • How much distance should you give around a Skylark nest during the nesting season in order to ensure that they are not disturbed?
  • Hi Malcolm,

    I would be surprised if you got a definitive answer to this on here as it's a technical question. I would have thought due to the nature of ground nesters, quite a large distance. Also, depends on what disturbance you're referring to. If ploughing or mowing, I'd have thought anything tens of feet and less would be too close. Apart from anything else, it would attract crows and gulls to the near vicinity.

    Not sure how to get a farming expert to respond to this sort of query. At least my response will bring the post to the top of the list.

  • In reply to Robbo:

    Thanks Rob,

    It is not a farmer or mowing but a developer wishing to remove topsoil and use the meadow for landfill before building on it.
    I have suggested to the council that the development be delayed until after September when nesting has ceased.

  • No problem. Yes, in that case, sounds definitely like there is a need to hold off with that! Shame the site is being lost.