The skylarks have started to display just 24 hours later than they did last year – I heard my first singing lark this morning, then managed to pick it out as it hung far up over a hillside striped with frozen snow and crispy, frosted grass. It was a beautiful sunlit morning, and perhaps that’s what inspired the larks to get into the mood. Given the miserable weather over the past seventy two hours, I don’t blame them for wanting to get started on a decent day. It’s odd to remember that when I was shooting along the north Norfolk coast three weeks ago, the skylarks were already in situ, singing and chasing each other over the wet grass. I may be three hundred miles further north than Norfolk, but it’s interesting to think that that distance translates into delays when you look at it in terms of animal behaviour.
After a major blitz on the local jackdaws and rooks last summer, (which ultimately led to the total destruction of the Chayne’s only jackdaw colony), it was useful to notice the first few black stragglers starting to return to the ash trees above the farm buildings. Rooks too are now starting to reappear amongst the scots pines above the neighbour’s farmhouse, and although their numbers are seriously depleted after last year’s spree, they are present in significant enough numbers to make them a priority for 2013 again. They become very easy to get rid of as the season goes on and spring really starts to swing, so for now I can quite happily watch them waddling around on the inbye fields.