A song of summer

With the birds of the hedgerows doing an impressive disappearing act at this time of year, hidden by the leaves and deep shadows of the hedges and wooded canopies, I am always grateful that the Yellowhammer chooses to be so conspicuous, at least in this part of Hertfordshire. Any journey down the lanes from our village will almost guarantee to come across one, sat atop a small tree or perched on a telegraph pole.
Their mnemonic ‘a little bit of bread and no cheese’ song is both unmistakable and mesmeric on a summer’s afternoon, evoking the sun bleached lanes and fields of childhood cornish holidays and as part of the sound of summer as Skylarks above the fields or the scream of Swift, Swallow and House Martins between and above the houses.

As with so many farmland birds, Yellowhammer numbers are in steep decline and have dropped over 50% in the last 40 years. It has been on the red list since 1996 and one can only hope that sympathetic farming methods will help to halt this alarming decline.

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