The song of the skylarks again

The song of the skylarks again
July 4, 2012 Adrian Walters

Well, it is really quite shocking to realise that half the year has already gone. The weather has been pretty shocking too which has reduced the number of visitors to the riverside quite dramatically. Perhaps as a consolation it has encouraged a pair of skylarks back onto Freemen’s Great Common where they used to nest annually
before increasing human and canine pressures made them seek pastures new. Even
if the skylarks fail to remain filling the sky with their uplifting song, there are still plenty of other birds to enjoy.

Elsewhere on quieter parts of the riverside, for example, our barn owls have raised a brood of three chicks for the second successive year. There has been plenty of food available, particularly in the form of long-tailed field mice so raising a family has not been a problem for the adult birds.

Recently there was a comment about an albino heron on the Sudbury Common Lands. This is in fact a little egret which is not an uncommon visitor to the ditches and pools on the pastures. The diet is similar to that of a heron but reduced in size as the egret is a much smaller bird and does not have the great wedge-shaped bill that the heron is equipped with.

The immeasurably graceful common terns are also about on the river. They have black caps and red bills and fine long wings with which to manoeuvre in a beautiful dancing manner as they wheel, bank and dive in pursuit of small fish.

The Sudbury Common Lands Charity recently secured a grant from the Big Lottery Fund. This money will be used to provide a hard surface direct cattle wagon access to the cattle loading pound near the Mill Hotel. The work will be carried out during July and in the first instance the ‘Type 1’ material will not look pretty. Very soon however, the work will weather down and blend in and yet still provide essential access for loading. With the refurbishment of the Mill it is not longer an option to run cattle past the building, cutting up the public footpath and leaving runny dung
on the path and the hotel walls. In future the old route will only be used in the event of very serious flooding.

At the same time there will be some footpath upgrade work on the Sudbury Common Lands using the same material with grant funding from the Big Lottery Fund and Babergh District Council. ‘Type 1’ is proving far more durable that the hoggin used in the past. This will reduce cost and maintenance in the long run and provide excellent access for all those fortunate enough to ‘discover’ the Sudbury riverside.

In addition to the general work July is very much about guided walks and school visits. The Freemen of Sudbury also come to view the management progress on the lands over which they continue to hold grazing rights. With so much to see progress on the walks is always slow but rewarding in spite of the continuing mixed weather conditions.