They’re back, the people at Wicken Fen said. The skylarks are singing. It was the push I needed. The thaw had set in at last, after days below zero: the colours had been restored to a soggy, boggy, claggy world. Still the kind of air that bites at your ears and a rain-later sky, but off, out, away.
I stopped on the path between roughly ploughed fields to try to hear the skylarks that usually live in these fields. The sounds came through faintly, on the wind – just a scattering of notes from that great flow of song – they were further on, behind the copse. And then I heard the buzzard cry. A sound to transport you instantly from a world of buildings and traffic and plastic and litter and thoughtless barging through life. Beautiful, beautiful bird. It crossed the fields in seconds and circled the copse for a minute or two, and then decided to hunt further away, nearer the river.
As I reached the patch of open ground next to the copse, which is full of thistles later in the year, there was a quick movement from the ground upwards: a kestrel. She sat in a distant tree, but with binoculars I watched her watching me and her surroundings – then she moved deeper into cover.
I moved one pace forward and – a flash of white: I just had time to focus the binoculars on a jay before it hid – I traced the blue into the copse until it disappeared. First time I’ve seen one here.
Around the final bend to the copse, and the view opened up to the spread of land between the road and the train line, which is about 2.5 miles across at this point. A flat, open space of fields, with wind turbines in the middle thanks to that flat openness, and there, on the neatly tilled and sown fields around the turbines, there are the skylarks. Alauda arvensis, the lark of the field. I couldn’t see them, but their song soared above the muffled roar of the road and the intermittent hoot and thunder of the trains. All the notes, one after the other, over and over. The wheel has turned again, they’re back, on we all go. I can do this; you can do this; we can do this.