Sunday, 8 March 2015

Skylarks Sing, Wheatears Fall: Spring has Sprung!

Startops reservoir, 26 March 2013

Hemel: I’d like to say that I went out this morning with a cunning plan to find a sparkly migrant. Actually, the situation was fairly similar to my first Hemel Wheatear in October 2012. Back then, I’d just popped out to the local shops to buy a loaf of bread and walked home to find a Wheatear hopping around my driveway! Bonkers eh.

Over the last week, I’ve felt extremely drained and much of my time has been spent doing very little. This morning, I felt particularly washed out and thought what can I usefully do that involves the least amount of effort but enables me to enjoy the outdoors. Having listened to Jerry Hoare’s beautiful Skylark recording last night, I struck on a plan. It involved sitting in my car - window open - watching, listening and recording the Skylarks on local farmland. It required virtually no effort, meant I was comfortable, but gave me the sense of being outside.

There were perhaps 7 or more Skylarks within view. 4 at least were males, singing hard for love and land. In the half hour that I’d sat quietly listening and watching, there had been only 3 bursts of song that were close enough to record. These lasted for between 2 and 3 minutes but I was still waiting for a bird to come right up close, as it had done early on, when, in my weakened mental state, I’d failed to press the record button (ahem)...

…so, anyway...there I was, sitting comfortably, binoculars in hand, when a bird dropped onto the verge about 30-40 meters in front of the car. A WHEATEAR! And, a bright, smart Spring male to boot (not dissimilar to the Startops bird in 2013)! Fantastic! I leaned out of the car window and grabbed some record shots (below). The bird then flew into the crop field and I hauled myself out of the warmth and attempted some video footage. If you watch it, you’ll understand why I never try to video anything with my camera unless it is an extremely still day, but, hey, it’s a Wheatear in Hemel so that’s got to be worth a wobble or two…thousand. The soundtrack is one of the Skylarks from the morning - it’s not great quality but the best I could manage today (barking dog essential apparently).


  1. What a great local find!! And the first local migrant I've heard of this year! Well done Lucy!

    1. Thanks Martin and thanks for your comments. Yes, it was a very nice surprise. I certainly felt a lot more chipper when I came home than when I went out ;o)