For Day 4 of the challenge I wanted to listen to a skylark, a bird often described as the very voice of the UK spring. They have a beautiful song that radiates through the air; a joyful riot of music, as the bird itself hangs suspended somewhere high overhead.
The skylark’s recent and dramatic population declines make it a Red List species. But, not far from where I live is Skylark Meadow, in the Alyn Waters Country Park, an ideal home for this iconic British farmland bird and where I hoped to hear it.
I wasn’t disappointed. I watched a skylark fly higher and ever higher over the meadow until it was just a speck in the sky. And still its song could be heard, so beautifully advertising its presence.
I recalled a few lines from Shelley’s “Ode to a Skylark”:
"Hail to thee, blithe Spirit! Bird thou never wert ~ That from Heaven or near it Pourest they full heart in profuse strains of unpremeditated art."
I marvel at its ability to sing constantly for hours on end. But I also feel sad as I think about the rapid decline in both its population and range. Modern farming methods are largely responsible, but surely those of us who enjoy cheap food and the convenience of supermarkets are also to blame?