'I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out 'til sundown, for going out, I found was really going in.' John Muir

I've seen the top of Everest (from a long way off), smelled the breath of a whale (from way too close) and lived on a boat in Greece (for a few years), but I continue to experience some of my most precious moments right outside my backdoor.

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Sunday, 17 February 2013

Up with the lark

The wind’s from Siberia, slicing through the crystal clear sky like an ice axe.  We’re up on Halkyn Common, Snowdonia on our left, The Dee far below on our right. I hear a faint song, like a thumb being drawn continuously over the teeth of a metal comb - not a dunnock, not a robin. Pulling my fleece hat off my right ear, I angle my head away from the whistling wind and look up.  Finally I spot a black dot way up high, just in front of the tissue paper moon, underlined by an EasyJet vapour trail, my first skylark of the year.  He pours down his song, never pausing for breath. 
It's only February, he won’t breed until April but he’s making sure he gets the best territory– the birdie equivalent of spreading his towel on a sun lounger before breakfast.

There's a ‘gulp’ of magpies clattering in a scrawny hawthorn.  I pity the ground nesting lark, though I once walked past a skylark’s nest everyday for a month and never knew it was there until someone showed me.  They’re very good at leading you away from their chicks.  Can they fool the magpies though?

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