The Lark Ascending – or “Gone Birding”.

If I were charging for access to this blog I suspect I would be prosecuted under the Sale of Goods Act as there is, I confess, no ascending lark today. There are however larks below so hang in there and you will be rewarded.

My alarm went off at 4.30 and I readied myself to meet Martin H at the Mai Po car park at 6am. By 6.10 we were on parade in the Tower Hide. In fact we were the only ones at that time although others trailed in somewhat later.

On opening the hide windows we could immediately see the Oriental Stork, Ciconia boyciana. It offered nice portrait shots but the only time it flew it was at the far end of the pond and I did not have my 1.4x TC on. 800mm was just not enough. Note to self: must buy decent lens. Here are a few shots of the OS.

There was also some Osprey activity. I succeeded in getting the interesting shots out of focus and the boring shots in focus and here is one I prepared earlier to prove it:

There were long lulls in activity but Martin pointed out a kingfisher to my right and that helped pass the time.

Try as we might we couldn’t improve the flat light so we decided to decamp to Long Valley. I wanted to see Japanese Quail.

It was busy today, with both photographers and tour groups wandering around. At first glance there was not much that attracted us.  A quick flash of Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler was all we had to keep us going. But then we spotted some skylarks on the ground and we spent the next hour or so trying to get close enough for decent shots. Martin remembered to put his 1.4x TC on and of course I didn’t. Anyway, here are the skylark offerings:

This skylark is not dead. It is not pining for the fjords. It is dust bathing. Amazing isn’t it. Here it is in the upright position!

It is interesting to note the different coloured plumages from a fairly rich brown to a  much sandier shade. I am not getting into the issue  of Eurasian versus Oriental but Martin speculated that ageing may play a factor. How many birds we saw in total is debatable. At least 6 we believe and possibly 9 or 10. A very welcome bonus to our morning.

I also snapped this Stonechat.

Pretty but no competition for the skylarks. All aboard the Skylark? Oh and I didn’t see the JQ.

So there we are. I took over 500 shots today, many so similar I can’t tell the difference between them. I am going through the editing job now and if I keep 20 it will be plenty. Its hard to be bored when you are birding. Something will always turn up. Usually just after I have gone. I hope these shots encourage people to get out with a pair of binoculars and see what is about. You never know you might really see the lark ascending.

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8 thoughts on “The Lark Ascending – or “Gone Birding”.

  1. Aha ! So this is what you’ve been up to while I’ve been away ! Early starts and nice pics …

    I though the prostrate Lark might have been practicing for a limbo dancing contest

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