The lark ascending
I’ve come over to Colchester for a few days to visit friends, do some work for my second novel, and revisit some favourite nature haunts from when I lived here. As soon as I arrived, I stopped at Gosbecks Archaeological Park. It’s a lovely spot, and brilliantly managed, with the meadowland allowed to thrive while human (and dog) visitors wander through wide avenues mown here and there.
It’s called an archaeological park because it is a site of particular historical significance. This park is where Colchester was founded, with evidence of residence dating back to Bronze Age. It is where ancient kings of Briton surrendered to the Romans, and where our Italian conquerors built a religious temple of significant size, along with the biggest theatre of its time in Britain. The outlines of these two incredible buildings can still be seen, chalked out in the grass.
But it is not history I have come for, but nature – and I am not disappointed. Within seconds of starting my walk from the car park, I can hear Skylarks. In fact, I am surrounded by their beautiful song. Turning this way and that, I can see them rising from their nests in the long grasses, and starting their song, climbing higher and higher as they go, until they are only tiny dots high in the sky. Then eventually they plunge down to hide in the grass once more.
As they rose and fell around me, I felt utterly spellbound. I didn’t even try to take a photograph – but then I spotted one amongst the grasses, in a spot small bare patch. I told myself I wouldn’t manage to get a shot…but as you can see, I did!
Danger lurked above them though: a Kestrel quartered the field, then hovered. Suddenly it dropped! But it wasn’t lucky this time. It patiently searched again, hanging in the sky as though pinned in place. It dropped a second time, but had no luck, foiled by the long grass. Once again it patiently searched then hovered. And the third time it dropped it caught something. I couldn’t see what it was sadly, obscured as it was by the grass, but I couldn’t help hoping it wasn’t a Skylark, even while congratulating the Kestrel for a job well done. (continues later…)