Saturday, May 25, 2013

An Extraordinary Lark

I must admit having risen from the bed at some unearthly hour, the morning had not been very productive, with only a couple of Chiffchaff photos for my efforts, and so my thoughts were turning to a return home for some breakfast.

En route I decided to try one last place as a last ditch attempt to put some photos on the memory card and diverted off to a site close to home to look that beautiful songster, the skylark.  It proved to be a sensible decision. It is strange how small timing decisions can often make the difference between success and failure in wildlife photography. I am sure many of you, who pursue wildlife with the camera, have witnessed your subject appear where you have been sat as you have decided to walked away due to inactivity.

As I walked up the small grass slope I spotted a skylark and the next 90 minutes turned into an incredible encounter with an unusual bird. I crept into position and the bird seemed completely oblivious to me.

In fact as I approached, the bird decided to walkover towards me until it was standing about 30cms away and far too close to photograph. Strange. I was then left with a dilemma  should I try backing slowly away so I could take some photos, with the risk of the bird departing,  or wait for it to move.  

The bird was going nowhere and after a while I backed off, only for it to come trotting through the long grass to stand right next to me once. This was repeated several times before the lark headed skywards in vertical song flight. Up and up it went in full song, only to descend once more and land right next me.

Two dog walkers were coming along the path which I was convinced would see the departure of the bird but as they got closer it just casually walked around and hid behind me, to re-emerged next me once more after they passed. This was all very odd the bird just seemed to like being next to me. It was obviously on its own and still looking for a mate and seemed to content to spend some time with me.

Many people associate skylarks with their song flight when they almost disappear from sight in the blue yonder above, before slowly descending with their liquid song and finishing off with sudden plunge back to earth.  However, they also have a ground display when they go up on extended legs, raise their tail and appear to 'dance' and bob on the spot while in song. This is what the bird was now doing right next to me. To have a skylark stood singing and displaying literally right next to you, I can only describe as a sublime experience.
I decided to do some ground level photo given this unique opportunity. Photographing a small bird on the ground can be tricky when the grass is even a moderate length as there often stray blades which insist on appearing in the wrong place.  It proved even more difficult on this occasion as the bird insisted on coming too close.
Having taken plenty of photos it was definitely time for breakfast. Even when I stood up to leave the bird was still standing right next me. As I walked back to the car, the bird took flight, flew straight down towards me and landed in front of me once more. It continued to do this for the next 400m before finally deciding to go off and find itself some breakfast. A very strange bird but a superb encounter with an extraordinary lark.


Dawn Puliafico said...

You are the lark whisperer!

Paul Sorrell said...

Time for the wide-angle lens, Richard!

Jamie Medford said...

An amazing encounter Richard, beats my normal efforts of everything flying off as soon as a get within a half of mile of them!

Corey Smith said...

This Eurasian Skylark is very spectacular. It's not often you'd see it performing its dance in front of you so close. As you said, it was a "sublime experience," and no doubt a great thing to witness before your morning breakfast.

Africa Gómez said...

Beautiful post, and great shots. After a couple of weeks almost off the web, it's great to catch up with some great wildlife moments.

Maxanimal said...

Awesome Page and Photos about the birds. thanks for sharing.


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