New Forest Woodlark survey underway


A survey of the New Forest's population of Woodlark is in full swing, with some 100 volunteers helping to monitor the species.

The census has been headed up by the Hampshire Ornithological Society (HOS), having been commissioned by Forestry England as part of its commitment to monitor certain bird species within the New Forest Special Protection Area.

No fewer than 100 HOS members volunteered to take part, covering 307 1-km squares across the New Forest. The first half of the survey took place between 15 February and 31 March, with the second between 1 April and 31 May.

The New Forest is a nationally important area for Woodlark (Tom Wright).


Fluctuating status

The last survey took place in 2019, when 172 Woodlark territories were found. An interactive map of Woodlark territories found so far this year can be viewed on the HOS website.

Woodlark is patchily distributed in the UK, chiefly breeding in the south and east of England. The species is too restricted in range for population changes to be monitored annually by BTO volunteer surveys, but a national survey in 1997 showed that, after a period of decline and range retraction, the population was increasing, accompanied by expansion into new areas.

A further survey in 2006 recorded just over 3,000 pairs – an increase since 1997 of 88%, which was accompanied by a major range expansion.