Woodlarks and helicopters
I often walk at Thursley common; it’s one of my favourite places and great for seeing birds. There are often woodlarks, tree pipits or skylarks there (I’m still learning to tell the difference from a distance), and their songs seem to echo around the whole heath. Today my walk had the beautiful soundtrack of a woodlark – fluting notes from high above me as it fluttered in its display flight. It took me a while to spot it as it was quite high up, but once I’d located the hovering, fluttering dot, I watched it for a while as it hovered – fluttered – hovered – fluttered. It was joined fleetingly by three others and they wheeled around each other, all singing, before the three flew off across the common. As I crossed the common there were at least three singing from different spots. I wonder why they are displaying like this now? I don’t suppose it’s a breeding thing now, so maybe it’s just for the joy of it?
Last week we saw a loose flock of birds moving rapidly from sky to ground to tree to bush to ground again. They looked very much like woodlarks but I didn’t think they moved in a flock so combed my birdbook looking for a match without success. Today I read a reference to them flocking, so I reckon that must have been what we saw.
The only thing to interrupt the larks today were the other things that fly frequently over Thursley; helicopters. There was a chinook, as usual, but then an unusual looking large helicopter flying very low with its back door open. I’d always assumed the chinooks were to do with the army at Aldershot, but on looking up helicopters I discovered they come from a nearby RAF base – Odiham. Today’s mystery helicopter was a Merlin, it would seem. Why it was flying so low with its cargo door open, I’ve no idea.
The colours are just turning on the birch now, and the grasses that predominate in the wetland mire areas have turned a stunning burnished copper.