Guess What I Found…..

Photo: Mike Howe

Photo: Mike Howe

It’s a skylark nest, with four beautiful, tiny eggs in it.  Skylarks are birds of open grasslands and they build their nests on the ground, often producing 2 or 3 broods per year.  The nests are incredibly hard to find because they are so well concealed from predators.

Photo: Mike Howe

Photo: Mike Howe

Skylark numbers have plummeted in the UK by over 90% in the past 50 years as our traditional hay meadows have been replaced by much more intensively managed grasslands that are mown for silage 2 or 3 times a year – the mowing destroys the nests, and so the populations of skylarks and other grassland species have declined rapidly.

This place is different though.  This nest is one of around 60 that can be found on a dis-used World War II airfield near St Davids in West Wales.  The grassland is managed just like an old fashioned hay meadow, with grazing by cattle in the winter, and hay making in late summer, and with no inputs of chemical fertilisers.

The airfield was once a place where the great Halifax bombers flew to patrol along the Atlantic coast and where thousands of service men and women were housed.

St Davids Airfield aerial

These days the airfield is a place of tranquility and calm and home to wild flowers, butterflies and skylarks.

Photo: Mike Howe

Photo: Mike Howe

I have met and talked with some of the men who flew from here at the height of the war, and they couldn’t be happier that this is now a place of peace and where wildlife can thrive.  It seems like a wonderful way to honour and remember those that died on both sides, a place of vibrant and colourful life and peaceful quiet.


About Mike Howe

I am an ecologist and a composer of guitar based instrumental melodies signed to the Real Music label in California. I like to write about my work, music and nature conservation and how it all comes together. I try not to write about things I don't know much about.
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11 Responses to Guess What I Found…..

  1. Gallivanta says:

    What a lovely recycling of an aerodrome and its history especially when,these days, airports spend huge sums of money keeping wild life away from their planes and buildings. I believe airports are now using grass that makes birds feel sick (not die, just feel sick) to prevent them from coming near the runways.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful photos and stories Mike — as always, you are excellent at weaving seemingly different stories together…so cool that there are still some WWII Vets still around to talk to…

    • Mike Howe says:

      Thanks Kevin I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Unfortunately there are fewer and fewer WWII Vets to talk to, and sadly the last one I spoke to is no longer with us, but he had vivid memories of being in the last Halifax bomber to take off from the airfield during wartime. All the best, Mike

  3. elkement says:

    I enjoyed this – you managed to tell several intertwined stories about animals, history, and land use …. using a few pictures and not too many words (I would not get this across in my usual long-winded posts 😀 )

    • Mike Howe says:

      Thank you Elke, I’m glad you liked it and appreciated its conciseness 🙂 I don’t like to assume people want to read loads of verbage. You, on the other hand, write wonderful posts that are not at all long winded, I enjoy them very much 🙂

  4. What a great find! Glad to see places like the airfield preserved for both historical and environmental reasons.

    • Mike Howe says:

      Thanks! Yes it was one of those great moments to find such a perfect little nest. The airfield is a wonderful place now, full of history and atmosphere. Thanks for commenting I really appreciate it 🙂

  5. Nice photos! I made an omelet yesterday with duck eggs. First time trying them…quite good!

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