Skylarking

The Skylarks are busy, here at Aust near Bristol.

Skylark - Aust - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The RSPB says, “Its recent and dramatic population declines make it a Red List species.” According to The State of the UK’s Birds, the long-term population trend for Skylarks is a 59% decline from 1970–2015. For every five Skylarks in 1970 there are just two left now.

Skylark - Aust - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The Severn Bridge is a spectacular backdrop for their display. There’s a noisy reminder of our military as well as our industrial priorities overhead:

Aust - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It’s drowning out their song.

Skylark - Aust - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It’s tricky to capture photographs of them:

Skylarks were probably always rare specialists. They would originally have been birds of salt marsh and steppe grassland. Our agricultural revolution meant a huge growth in their population. A consequence of us chopping and burning all our forests to make space for crops was that we made space for them too.

Skylark - Aust - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Now, our industrial agriculture is killing them. You can talk all you like about agri-environment schemes, crop spraying, winter stubble and field edges; that doesn’t change the fact that in Britain millions of Skylarks have had nothing to eat, nothing to drink and nowhere for their families to live.

Skylark - Aust - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Here, at Aust, they are free to live in their original habitat. They are living life on the edge; as are we.

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