Remember the Lark
This poem and accompanying information about the skylark was written by RDC Open Spaces Supervisor, Richard Bond.
Thank you Richard, for allowing us to reproduce your poem here.
During the First World War this plucky little bird
remained on the battle field. In soldiers letters home from the front, they describe how, in the brief rest from shelling and gun fire the little Lark would ascend, his song bringing a moment of tranquility to both sides of the Trench.
Sadly this little bird is in decline; between 1972 and 1996 saw the loss of 75% of the UK breeding population. Changes to farming practices have seen a lack of suitable nesting habitat, allowing the birds only a small chance of raising a successful brood of chicks. Some farms are now creating suitable habitats by leaving unseeded areas of 5-10 m around the centre of arable fields. Preferring short vegetation and areas of grasses in which it can forage for food the Skylark finds refuge in the quieter areas of our country parks. Many of the districts open spaces provide this habitat and enable the Birds to have a better chance of successful breeding.
Male birds can climb as high as 100m above the fields, singing initially to attract a mate, then after to defend his territory. The song will last for a few minutes but later in the season this can exceed 20 minutes!
Being a ground nesting bird both male and female will sing to attract attention away from the nest, running along the ground first before taking flight singing defiantly when predators approach. A good mimic, the Skylark will often include within its own song the calls of other birds that share the local area. Three to six eggs are laid in June a second or third brood may be started later in the year. The eggs are coloured yellow/white with brownish/purple spots at the larger end. So when you’re out in summer, take a moment, lie back, look up, enjoy the Lark’s sweet summer song… and remember.
Appropriately one of the best places to hear skylarks in the park is in the Wild Flower Meadow close to the WW1 memorial trees and in the adjacent fields. Be Aware — in spring and early summer there may be nests on the ground, please keep to the well used tracks that run across the meadows…. and listen!