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.
Skylark numbers have plummeted in the UK by over 90% in the past 50 years as our traditional hay meadows have been replaced by much more intensively managed grasslands that are mown for silage 2 or 3 times a year – the mowing destroys the nests, and so the populations of skylarks and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.
These days the airfield is a place of tranquility and calm and home to wild flowers, butterflies and skylarks.
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.