Thursday, 3 February 2011

Shorelark (Eremophila alpestris)

Three adult Shorelark (subspecies E. a. flava) at Reculver, Kent -  February 2011

OTHER NAMES: Shore Lark, Horned Lark
Featured Subspecies: Eremophila alpestris flava
Weight: 33-45g
Length: 16-19cm
Wingspan: 30-24cm
NO UK STATUS / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

Known in America as "Horned Larks", Shore larks are the scarcest of the the three UK larks - a Winter visitor which turns up on beaches along the East Coast in numbers between a handful and a few hundred. This is perhaps balanced by the fact it is one of the most massively globally distributed species I have seen, found on every continent except Australasia and Antarctica. They also are, in my opinion, by far the most striking of the UK larks - while the other lark species of Europe have varying combinations of ochre, it has a distinctive yellow and black face and a white chest. For the most part these will probably require some awareness of where they have been sighted to find - even there I made sure to ask where exactly they'd been seen to make it easier to find them.

Related Species:
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Alaudidae
Genus: Eremophila
Subspecies*: E. a. atlas, E. a. balcanica, E. a. kumerloevei, E. a. bicornis, E. a. penicillata, E. a. albigula, E. a. longirostris, E. a. teleschowi, E. a. argalea, E. a. elwesi, E. a. khamensis, E. a. nigrifrons, E. a. przewalskii, E. a. flava, E. a. brandti, E. a. hoyti, E. a. alpestris, E. a. praticola, E. a. giraudi, E. a. arcticola, E. a. alpina, E. a. leucolaema, E. a. enthymia, E. a. merrilli, E. a. lamprochroma, E. a. utahensis, E. a. ammophila, E. a. leucansiptila, E. a. occidentalis, E. a. strigata, E. a. sierrae, E. a. rubea, E. a. actia, E. a. insularis, E. a. adusta, E. a. enertera, E. a. aphrasta, E. a. lactea, E. a. diaphora, E. a. chrysolaema, E. a. oaxacae, E. a. peregrina 

* The Shorelark is probably imminently due to be split into 6 species, consisting of Atlas, Caucasian, Himalayan, Shore, Steppe and Horned larks.  Obviously, if this happens, this list will decrease substantially.     

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - A rare Winter visitor (c. 74 birds)
 - A trio seen at Reculver,in February 2011        

Further Information: RSPB, Wikipedia, BirdguidesBirdForum Opus, Arkive, IUCN Red List

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