|Skylark in coastal habitat (c.oos)|
Its easier to notice winter migrants along the coast or in a wetland site: we have grown to expect and look forward to the return of Whooper Swans , Brent Geese and Wigeon: a sort of compensation for the shorter days and colder weather.
Here in the garden its a little more subtle: the Summer stock of Blackcaps have stripped the elders and moved on south for the winter: no sign of Redwings or Fieldfares replacing them in the hedgerows yet, but they can't be long now.
Last weekend, on one of those dry, cool October days, with little wind and bright blue skies, I noticed the dry, rolling calls of Skylarks flying overhead. Though unseen, the contact call is a distinctive, 'prreet', when delivered from different members of the flock it becomes a stronger chorus.
These icons of the countryside, though suffering catastrophically as a breeding species, still come to winter with us from Northern climes. No doubt our open winter stubbles are attractive, but the numbers are not nearly as high as those recalled from decades gone by when literally thousands could be put up from coastal fields.
Another migrant with us is the Meadow Pipit: they probably breed on the higher, rougher ground, not more than 5km away but many more pass through at this time, another mud brown bird that gladly associates
with the more traditional regimes of stubbles and unimproved grasslands.
|Skylark in late winter stubble (c.OOS)|