Thursday, June 10, 2010

What A Lark

Lots of the UK bird blogs bemoan the fact that it’s now summer and birds are hard to find. I know some birders even hang up their bins for a while and go into a mid summer torpor waiting for migration to start up again. I’m fortunate in that if birding is quiet I can do a bit of ringing even though that is quiet too, or a bit of photography if the inactive or hiding away birds allow me.

So I set off on the well worn path Lane Ends to Pilling Water with a set of pliers and rings, “A” for Meadow Pipits, “B” for Skylarks, and “D2” for Redshank and Lapwing in the side pocket of my camera bag. Bins at the ready I ditched my ‘scope for the morning, already weighed down with equipment enough, the heavy thought that I might not see or do a lot, plus the burden of a jacket worn against the cool northerly.

Lane Ends had the usual mix of stuff, a couple of singing Chaffinch with singles of Blackcap, Reed Warbler and a Whitethroat alongside the west fence. I didn’t hear any Willow Warblers, even the contact calls of adults feeding young, so maybe they have been unsuccessful here this year.

Chaffinch

Blackcap

Reed Warbler

On the pools I counted 6 Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebe and the resident Grey Heron. Things were so quiet I even took time out to take a picture of a clump of an orchid in the plantation. I think its Early Purple Orchid but I’m not really a plant man so I dedicate this picture to my friends from Menorca – Jane and Alan, together with Nigel and Elizabeth who all tried to educate me recently and who would easily confirm my Internet assisted identification.

Early Purple Orchid

There was a similar amount of bird inactivity towards Pilling Water, where out on the marsh several Redshank and Lapwing warned their young of my presence but they were safe enough from me if they stuck to the distant ditches. I counted several hirundines feeding along the sheltered back of the wall, and also 8 Swift, notable this year, which seemed to move quickly west in the direction of Fluke Hall.

I took time out to try and photograph a Skylark or two in less than ideal conditions of the wind and a sometimes bright but not blue sky. The Skylarks should have young by now but I couldn’t see any evidence with the half a dozen birds I found still engrossed in displaying, singing and courtship rather than collecting food.

Skylark

Skylark

Skylark

Skylark

In recent times the Skylark population plummeted so that today the population is about one-third of the numbers 30 years ago. The decline is most likely caused by the move to winter sowing of cereals, which deters late-season nesting attempts and may reduce winter survival because there is less stubble, such as barley and wheat, and also the use of pesticides, which kills the insects needed to feed the young. Consequently, it is on the Red List as a bird of high conservation concern.

The Skylark is the subject of much poetry, "To a Skylark" by William Wordsworth is perhaps one of the better known:
Up with me! up with me into the clouds!
For thy song, Lark, is strong;
Up with me, up with me into the clouds!
Singing, singing,
With clouds and sky about thee ringing,
Lift me, guide me till I find
That spot which seems so to thy mind!

Well the weather forecast looks much better for weekend so my prediction is for a ringing session or two and a catch of recently fledged youngsters and moulting adult birds.

8 comments:

Stu said...

Same Skylark species as here, the snow and ice prevent any winter agriculture so as of yet they're still pretty common.......

Paco Sales said...

Lindas fotos de estas diminutas criaturas de la naturaleza, muy bellas, un saludo

Phil said...

Hola Paco, Para mis lectores una traducción Inglés. Phil

"Beautiful pictures of these tiny creatures of nature, very beautiful, greetings"

Stu, Glad to hear that news.

Unravel said...

Nice to see some very beautiful orchids!
The European species look very different from the tropical ones. Though there are lots of species of orchids in Thailand, I've never seen one like that before....truly exotic! (for me....)

Pete Woodruff said...

Had another look in here again Phil, enjoyed the read and obviously needn't have done the translation bit for you for Paco's post the other day.

Fleetwood Birder said...

One of my favourite Skylark poems Phil is Shelley's 'Ode To A Skylark'.
"Hail to thee blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art".
Awesome!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

That Skylark is a beauty and I LOVE your banner, those eyes, wow~

ALVARO said...

Bonita Alondra. Saludos Phil

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