It was the perfect Spring morning. Sunshine, very gentle breeze, some rain the night before to freshen everything up; and the Skylarks up over every field I passed on my morning walk. In many parts of the country you won't hear them at all now, because they are very vulnerable at breeding time. I believe there are two reasons for this.
Skylarks like to nest out in the open, preferably in an area of uncut grass, or a cornfield. The parent birds will alight in the field some yards from their nest, and then run along the ground in a very secretive manner to reach the nest. If the grass or corn is a few inches high, the birds are invisible from ground level. But if a predator has the cunning to sit at the top of a nearby tree and watch from there, it is easy for it to pinpoint the site of the nest and then to swoop down. Being much larger than the lark, the result will always be the loss of eggs or babies. We control this particular predator in our area, and this helps the Skylarks a lot, I am convinced.
Our local farmer also has established conservation strips of land round some of his fields, which could be a help to the birds of several species. That is if people did not regard this as a suitable place to walk their dogs, which are not kept on the lead, to make it worse. So the second problem for our Skylarks are selfish and/or ignorant people who also disturb or destroy their nests. If you point out to people what they are doing, and politely ask them to leave and stay away, you will get every kind of reaction from total dumb insolence to a stream of obscene language.
And then we get articles from the R.S.P.B. castigating our farmers for destroying the habitat our songbirds need, and laying all the blame on them, while we all demand that they increase productivity and make our food even cheaper! Meanwhile, I look forward to hearing the wonderful songs again tomorrow morning! Oh! May I thank those of you who have dared to read my writings, and have kindly responded.