In these showery, wet, downpour days, spring on the downs has a glance of the substrate that kinds it – a blue-merle purling of flint and chalk. The contrasts of dapple-grey and white snag my eye as a deeply acquainted marker of spring that I at all times neglect to search for. It’s there within the chalk tracks and cream-plough fields, hail-full clouds, a snow flurry towards an iron sky, blossom by a flint wall. Skylarks, meadow pipits and woodlarks stand up, singing towards all of it.

The woodlark is a relative newcomer (or returnee) right here, showing first on stubble fields which can be left to overwinter below agri-environment schemes. In what appears to be a seamless vary growth from a lowpoint within the Eighties, they’ve bred efficiently right here in the previous couple of years, and now their music rains down in a extra melodic, easier hallelujah than the skylark’s brassy notes. Typically I hear them from the again backyard.

A woodlark (Lullula arborea). {Photograph}: Nature Photographers Ltd/Alamy

Climbing up the facet of the down, shiny yellowhammers name sweetly, however not strongly sufficient but to finish their repeated phrase, so the songs hold within the air all the way in which up – a stepped record of unfinished sentences. The identical yellowhammer pops of color seem within the stubby brushes of coltsfoot flowers. Across the huge milky puddles on the Wayfarers monitor are flirtatious little flocks of stonechats.

I stroll up once more two days later with Lucy “Lapwing” Hodson, wildlife presenter and self-confessed nature nerd. I’m thrilled to point out her my (mild) stomping floor and disenchanted when the backyard woodlark is a no-show. We stroll the winding lane to the large down, chatting breathlessly, when birdsong stops us each on the identical time. We pay attention on an indrawn breath, our arms involuntarily gone to our hearts, to the gorgeous Lullula arborea – the fluttering, avian coronary heart of Thomas Hardy – and exhale the phrase: “Woodlark!”

It’s certainly one of many such “nature interruptions” as we speak: a bee-fly, hares, cronking ravens, white violets, a yellowhammer with its head lit up like a lightbulb out in entrance, which leaves threads of our personal dialog suspended within the air, unfinished, redirected, weaving into new issues, like gossamer.


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