Thursday, 18 May 2017

All’s Well That Ends Well

It’s taken a while, and the season is very late, but at last the sky above the common is full of skylark and meadow pipit song. After such a long hard winter I feared they might have been decimated. Stonechats too have returned, just a couple of pairs, but enough to provide the start of a recovery, but maybe these have returned from Spain or Portugal, where some over-winter.

Skylarks ascend to the heavens, their incredible song ever fainter as they disappear almost out of sight. Meadow pipits prefer to stay lower, parachuting down with pinpoint accuracy to some target on the ground.  I walk through yellow gorse towards the distant golfers. Skylarks flush from cover on either side of the path. Rising up, at first they call liquid-like and throaty, but soon change into the magic song of summer skies. The same walk a month ago was silent, no larks or pipits, just a single reed bunting chirping from his usual perch on top of a leafless willow. Now two and maybe three buntings sing from green willows, and there’s much chasing of females. I’ll need to rise early to check the number of skylarks, but after all my fears of a silent spring, it looks as though things may not turn out to be so bad - all’s well that ends well.

The little stream and surrounding wetland attract most of the wildlife. Apart from the reed buntings, blackbirds, willow warblers, dunnocks and rosy-pink linnets come to feed or drink. Here cuckooflowers abound, but no cuckoos call and I fear we may not have one on the common this year.

There’s still a northerly nip in the air forcing swifts, swallows and martins to hunt close to the ground, which gives me a rare chance to get really close to these marvels of flight.

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