Sunday, 21 April 2013

Skylarks, and long-lost memories

Lade - 0800hrs - mild, sunny, ne 2, sw 3 later - A stunning spring morning with warm sunshine and light airs, ideal for birding Kerton Road Pit, particularly as it is closed on Sundays. Checked the islands at the north end where the Black-headed Gull colony had swollen to about 50 pairs. They were making a right old racket courting and flying around along with 12 Mediterranean Gulls (no wonder I`m seeing them regularly over the cottage) who certainly looked as though they were interested in settling down to nest. On the open water a pair of Garganey was a surprise, plus 6 Teal, 4 Shelducks, 2 Shovelers and a few Pochards. In the quarry bottom around the workings 2 pairs of Little Ringed Plovers and a pair of Ringed Plovers noted along with 5 Yellow Wagtails, Kestrel and a pair of Stock Doves, while at least 10 Oystercatchers and 2 Lapwings present around the pit margins and islands.
Best of all though was at least a dozen Skylarks singing over a relatively small area of rough undisturbed grassland, yet to worked by the diggers. It was a real treat to lay down and bask on an east facing bank and enjoy their uplifting song, which for some reason reminded me of a yarn my old grandad regaled me with when I was a nipper. In the early 1900`s, before our farmland was soaked with chemicals, he would cycle out from Shepherds Bush in London to work in the market garden fields of the Thames Valley (now largely covered in urban sprawl and Heathrow airport). As a kid he planted spuds by hand and hoed the weeds while the air space above was full of lark song. A few years on when suffering the horrors of trench warfare, the sweet song of the Skylark in the Flanders skies would remind him of those halcyon days in the Middlesex countryside.
Funny how such a thing as singing Skylarks can trigger long-lost memories. Anyhow, I digress.

                                Kerton Road Pit gullery

RSPB - An afternoon visit to the bird reserve yielded very little apart from the common warblers, a few hirundines, Yellow Wagtails and a Great White Egret. Lesser Whitethroat, Hobby and Cuckoo had all been reported today, while there was no further sign of yesterdays Penduline Tit.
Lade - An evening stroll over the storm beaches and a Greenshank flying over calling was new for the Marsh year list (167). Two Siskins overhead earlier in the afternoon.

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