Saturday, 6 January 2007

The song of a lark

...The song of the lark is a continuous torrent of contrasted gutteral and clear shrill sounds and trills, so rapidly emitted that the notes, so different in character, yet seem to interpenetrate or to overlap each other; and the effect on the ear is similar to that on the eye of sober or dull and brilliant colours mixed and running into one another in a confused pattern. The acutest note of all, a clear piercing sound like a cry several times repeated, is like a chance patch of most brilliant colour occurring at intervals in the pattern. As the distance between listener and bird increases the throat-notes cease to be audible; beginning with the lowest they are one by one sifted out, and are followed by the trills; and finally, at a very great distance - as far, in fact, as anything of the song is left - the occasional shrill reiterated notes I have descibed alone can be heard.

Let the reader, then, who has not been on these downs in summer on a brightest, windless day, and listened alone to this sound...let him imagine if he can the effect of a great number of birds all round the sky pouring out their highest, shrillest notes, so clarified and brighened by distance as to seem like no earthly music. To say of a sound that it is too birght is to use a too common metaphor; this sound shines above all others, and the multitude of voices made one by distance is an effulgence and a glory...

Nature in Downland: WH Hudson

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