Skylark © Stefan Johansson
The song of the skylark is a quintessential part of the summer in our countryside.
The song of the skylark has inspired more poets than any other
“He rises and begins to round, he drops the silver chain of sound.” So begins the famous poem “The Lark Ascending” by George Meredith. The skylark is Wordsworth’s ‘ethereal minstrel,’ Shelley’s ‘blithe spirit´ that ‘from heaven, or near it, pourest thy full heart in profuse strains of unpremeditated art’. John Clare proposes we ‘listen to its song, and smile and fancy’. The song of the skylark has inspired more poets than any other.
A tiny speck high in the sky as it soars and falls singing beautiful, long and complicated songs above cowslip-studded grasslands, rolling downs, coastal saltmarshes and wide arable fields. Changes in farming have led to skylark populations crashing, which is why they are now a Red List species of conservation concern.
How to do it
When you see or hear one stop awhile – or better still, lie down and give your neck a rest – so you can enjoy an ‘exaltation of skylarks’ - the wonderfully descriptive collective noun for this little bird.
If you can’t get to the special places listed below…If poetry is your thing (and hey, even if it’s not), try reading some of the poems that the song of the skylark has inspired. “To the Skylark” by William Wordsworth, “To a Skylark” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ted Hughes’ “Skylarks”, John Clare’s “The Skylark” and George Meredith’s lyrical poem “The Lark Ascending” and then listen to Vaughan Williams’ orchestral piece of the same name, inspired by the poem.
Listen to and see dozens of skylarks at Thurrock Thameside Nature Park, Essex. In spring, the sound of this magical bird is bewitching. Scour the sky in search of that elusive fluttering of wings as it rises and falls before parachuting back down to earth. The grasslands of this former landfill site are perfect for the skylark to feed, breed and thrive.
Derbyshire, The Avenue Washlands
Highlands, Rahoy Hills
Lincolnshire, Gibraltar Point
Norfolk, Weeting Heath
Norfok, Roydon Common
Northamptonshire, Old Sulehay
Surrey, Manor Farm
Yorkshire, Flamborough Cliffs
Skylark © Amy Lewis