Nature Notes: What larks

Streatham Guardian: Small tortoiseshell butterfly Small tortoiseshell butterfly

Anxious to hear skylarks singing,I went to my favourite wide open space in Richmond Park.
The weather alternated between brief sunny spells and sudden showers.

I walked onto the meadow bordering Beverley Brook and immediately a chorus of skylarks greeted me.

Three, maybe four, were singing above, their pure notes drifting down like cascades of silver stardust while others vocalised equally strongly and beautifully in the long grasses.

Sometimes, one of the birds parachuted down still singing before plunging to earth.

In fact, not for many years had I seen so many skylarks, both adults and recently fledged young in one place with those on the ground tolerating a close approach.

This was such a treat especially as the centre of London was only eight miles distant.

The sudden bursts of sunshine roused a crowd of butterflies including meadow browns,large,small and Essex skippers, small heaths, commas and a rare small tortoiseshell(pictured)all busily feeding on ragwort and thistle flowers.

My favourite insects, the magnificent banded demoiselles, flitted between grass blades,the dark blue wing patches of the males contrasting splendidly with the irridescent green females.

Beverley brook ran swiftly following much rain.Within the crystal clear water large chub and dace faced into the current picking off insects drifting downstream or plucking them from the surface, so reassuring to see and know how the fish have grown and multiplied since I first recorded them fifteen years ago as water quality improved.

To complete a perfect afternoon,a flock of house martins sped past over the meadow and flew towards the sun.

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