Birdwatch: skylark's song lifts my spirits in these darkened times

Stephen Moss

Our world is cribbed, confined and bound in as never before. Yet amid all the fear and horror, there is one silver lining, as we reconnect with nature on our doorstep. My Somerset garden is awash with birdsong: chiffchaffs, wrens, robins and a new arrival, the blackcap, all competing to see who can shout the loudest as spring gathers pace. Overhead, buzzards soar and ravens tumble, as delighted as I am to herald the new season.

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But to hear a bird whose song is the definitive sound of the countryside, I must take my daily exercise: a walk with our fox-red labrador Rosie around Blackford Moor, the little patch of land behind our home. I’ve seen some memorable birds here over the years, not least a female marsh harrier passing through on migration, just a week or so ago. But as with any local patch, it’s all about the commonplace; and here, and especially now, the ubiquitous bird is the skylark.

A plump, triangular-winged shape rises up from the lane in front of us, then rapidly gains height, while continuing to deliver an outpouring of song: a rapid jumble of notes that seems to go on forever, even when the bird vanishes into the ether. As the dog and I stand and watch, I feel a new book coming on: “Skylarks with Rosie”?