(1) The Skylark
(2) The Skylark
A BIRDS EYE VIEW OF BUTE
Many years in the springtime have I listened to the calls of the Skylark? It was the time I most enjoyed, watching them arise from the cover of the vegetation in the fields or moors, calling as they rose to great heights, sending their presence to all and sundry, and vying to reach farther that the one in the next field.
It was marvellous to observe them reaching their limit in height, and sometimes they are that high up you can hear but not see them and hold it there fluttering away for up to 15 minutes then glide down calling as they descended then disappear into the undergrowth, then to remain silent.
Holding your head upwards for long periods gave you severe neck pain, so the best way was to lie on the ground and enjoy listening to these birds, and also to get a good suntan, facing up or down as it did not matter which way as your eyes would be closed to keep the sun out, but be careful not to fall asleep. (This was the days when you could lie on the ground as it was dry.)
This one that you see here did things a wee bit different from the norm. I was the highest point on Lord James ‘Ride (Midway between Birgidale Butts and New Farm) when it rose to the usual height, then, when it had finished its bird’s song looking for a partner, it alighted on the whin bushes near to me as though it had spotted my camera and waited there till I had taken a few shots of it. This was a first for me and very unusual to observe, but I was not complaining, as it is easier for me to film when birds are on bushes than on the ground or flying. Even better, it had raised its crest as though showing off, a sight that you don’t often see. On checking my books, they say that they sometimes raise their crests and look like Crested Larks which are similar in appearance, but are not in the UK. (At least I have not heard of them here).
You will have realised that they are ground nesting birds, and are suitably attired to remain invisible when at rest, and they will survive better if they chose the moors to nest in rather than arable fields. Size, 17-18, cm, 6-7 in. Nest a cup, eggs, 3-4 greyish, blotched brown which will hatch out in 11 days with the female doing all of the incubation.
Although the Skylarks are with us all the year, their numbers are swelled in autumn as birds from northern Europe pass through southwards, and again in the spring during the summer passage. Bad weather during the winter is often accompanied by emigration on a massive scale as the birds seek better conditions.
Why not take the Kilchattan bus and get off at New Farm and walk up to that highest point and listen to their call, and if you don’t want to lie on the ground that may be covered in sheep’s droppings, there is a seat there for you giving you excellent views of Scalpsie Bay area. Enjoy!
First Published in the Buteman 29-06-2012