High Weald

woodlarkWoodlark (Lullula arborea). This bird is a highly regarded songster of open heaths where its beautiful song flight sweeps the bird upwards in slow ascending spirals until the song ends abruptly and it plunges silently to the ground.

Gerard Manley Hopkins tried hard to capture the elusive music of the phrasing in his poem, 'The Woodlark', and to echo the Woodlark song which starts 'Teevo cheevo cheevio chee: O where, what can that be?' and ends 'With a sweet joy of a sweet joy, Sweet, of a sweet, of a sweet joy, Of a sweet – a sweet – sweet – joy.'

Woodlarks have evolved to exploit open areas of heath for both food and to breed as they prefer areas with mainly short and open vegetation, with the occasional taller tree for a singing post. Lowland heath is just one of the habitats which determines the character of the High Weald landscape. The Management Plan, written specially for the AONB, sets out targets (which encourage everyone) to enhance the ecological function of field and heath. Long term management of heathland – maintaining large open areas is needed to secure the future of specialist heathland species such as the Woodlark.

Lowland heath in the High Weald where Woodlarks can be seen include Ashdown Forest and Broadwater Warren.