This weekend I went looking for my old nemesis: the Duke of Burgundy butterfly. It was a stinking hot day and as is usual with the Duke, who adores steeply – sloping sites, I ended up climbing up and down hills in the blazing sun. Although I saw the butterfly twice, I couldn’t get a picture of it. To rub salt into my wounds, I bumped into a young couple with a dog who proudly showed me a stunning picture that they had captured on their iPhone earlier that day.
But, as quite often happens with wildlife watching, the day wasn’t without its rewards. In the skies above me, I could hear the beautiful, lilting song of the Skylark, as evocative of warm summer days as the smell of newly-mowed grass. That by itself would probably have been enough to make the day a winner, but then I noticed a Skylark fly horizontally quite close to the ground, and land in a bush near to me. I took some photos, and thought little of it until I noticed a second Skylark nearby. I sat down with my camera (and my lunch!) and watched as the pair as they hunted for grabs in the grass, gradually getting closer to me. The Skylark is a bird that is normally elusive and extremely hard to see, but to my surprise, this pair were happy for me to get very close indeed – they seemed quite relaxed around people, and I got spectacular views of the female Skylark in the grass.
The Skylark is a long, graceful bird, a little smaller than a Blackbird. the Skylark has a Brown – and – cream speckled further pattern, very much like a thrush, and as you can see this image, it also has a small tuft feathers on its head which you can raise and lower rather like the spoiler on a high – end car. It’s used for signalling and displays.
Despite spending another two hours hunting for it after seeing the Skylarks, I never did manage a photograph of the Duke of Burgundy. One of the joys following wildlife is that every year you get another chance a spring rolls in again. So I know that in early May of 2019, be walking the slopes again in the hope the grand old Duke is flying.