Flocks on the summer plains
|Calandra Lark forms large post-breeding flocks in the summer (John Hawkins)|
The first birds airbourne were the parties of Cattle Egrets, radiating purposefully from the roost, quickly followed by the Black Kites with lazy flight, drifting. Atop piles of stones in the fields, rock-coloured in the dawn light, but distinctive in form, were Little Owls - from one stop I could see four different individuals. From the same spot, I picked out the periscope-shaped necks and heads of Great Bustard, in a meadow of dry grass so tall that they were almost hidden. White Storks were also out patrolling the ground for grasshoppers. A wave of short sharp notes filled the air, just like the sound of dry broom seed pods bursting open in the sun, as a group of Corn Buntings passed me. Birds seemed to be in flocks. A party of a hundred Spotless Starlings were lined-up, in regimented fashion, on the fence, a mixture of blackish adults and browner juveniles. They swirled down to the meadow and disappeared completely from view in the grass. From stubble rose a rasping, wheezing mass of Calandra Larks, with Short-toed Larks accompanying them, emerging in waves and then flying noisily in low direct flight to settle again, successive groups leap-frogging others. There must have been six or seven hundred of them, and as they turned to settle the flash revealed of white outer tail feathers and traling edge to the wing.
|The monochrome plains of high summer (Martin Kelsey)|