are one of the earliest migrants to return in the spring and also make
cold weather movements in winter, migrants can therefore be seen almost
at any time outside of the breeding season. In early March 2010 large
numbers were seen crossing the Black Sea. Many landed and subsequently
died onboard a survey vessel approximately halfway between Turkey and
Russia. Some died of exhaustion, others by collision.
A fate that often befalls migrants crossing open water is that on
overcast nights the birds lose their bearings and then circle anything
that has lights until daybreak when they can re-orientate themselves
using the light from the sun. Needless to say this costs hours of extra
flying and energy consumption. Skylark seem particularly prone to being
caught up in these circulations and will remain circling the vessel
until well after daybreak.
Many of the Skylarks seen offshore in the Black Sea in March 2010 were
killed and eaten by a Rook and a Kestrel, both of which remained
onboard a couple of days. Interestingly some Skylarks killed by
collisions in November 2011 lay on deck (along with dead of other
species) and were not eaten by Long-eared Owls
or Short-eared Owls that were present - these preferred to catch living
the deck of an ROV survey vessel, Black Sea,
04 March 2010
This bedraggled individual landed on a winch and became covered in
Late autumn migrant at Tjeldstø, Øygarden,
Exhausted migrant rests on deck
during the night, German
Sector of the North Sea,
The above photograph was taken at night using a DSLR with a 400mm lens
using fully automatic mode.
For more about nocturnal bird photography see this link.
Migrant Skylark killed by collision with vessel, November 2011