The First Song of the Skylark


Although it was heavily overcast at times, with a nasty tendency to sudden downpours of rain or sleet, it was glorious when the sun managed to escape from the clouds for a while. So Algy flew on towards the woodlands, and found himself an open spot on the hillside. The ground still felt very cold and unpleasantly damp, so he stretched himself out along a half-broken limb of a massive old oak tree, and indulged in a wee bit of early spring sunbathing. Suddenly, from high in the blue above him, he heard that wonderful prelude to spring… the first song of a skylark…

Algy hopes that even if you are not able to hear a skylark, you will all be able to find some sunshine this weekend 🙂


Algy flew into the old oak wood and found himself a perch among the leaves of a massive Atlantic Oak. The trees were all dressed in their finest spring green, and the leaves rustled gently in the breeze. Before long a robin started singing from another branch nearby, and so Algy happily joined in the annual song of the ancient woodland…

Algy flew on until he reached one of his favourite trees: a massive old storm-damaged oak, which stood alone in a clearing apart from the other trees. It was just coming into leaf, and the new leaves glowed yellow when the sun managed to break through the clouds. Although it was very late this year, Algy knew that spring had definitely arrived once the Atlantic oak trees burst into their distinctive yellowish green. As he looked at the tree he was reminded of a haiku by Basho:

The oak tree:
Not interested
in cherry blossoms

[Algy is quoting a haiku by the 17th century Japanese master Matsuo Basho in a translation by Robert Hass.]

As the afternoon wore on, and the sun sank low in the sky, Algy looked for a soft place where he could rest. There were many fallen trees in the ancient woods, which provided all kinds of cosy homes and perches for creatures great and small, so it wasn’t long before Algy found himself a luxurious bed for the night.

Leaning back on the deep, springy cushion of moss, Algy thought of all the wonderful friends who had been helping him in so many ways with his crowdfunding campaign. He felt amazed and thrilled by the amount of encouragement and support which he had already received, and profoundly grateful that so many people around the world should be interested in the fortunes of a silly, fluffy bird.

So Algy would like to offer this sonnet to everyone who has left kind notes, sent encouraging messages and good wishes, reblogged his campaign posts, or who has generously made a financial contribution – and to all those who intend to do any of these things :-)))

          I thank you, kind and best beloved friend,
          With the same thanks one murmurs to a sister,
          When, for some gentle favor, he hath kissed her,
          Less for the gifts than for the love you send,
          Less for the flowers, than what the flowers convey;
          If I, indeed, divine their meaning truly,
          And not unto myself ascribe, unduly,
          Things which you neither meant nor wished to say,
          Oh! tell me, is the hope then all misplaced?
          And am I flattered by my own affection?
          But in your beauteous gift, methought I traced
          Something above a short-lived predilection,
          And which, for that I know no dearer name,
          I designate as love, without love’s flame.

Algy thanks you, kind and best beloved friends :-)) He loves you all, and sends every one of you huge wingfuls of fluffy hugs xoxoxoxo

[Algy is quoting the Sonnet I Thank You by the 19th century American poet Henry Timrod.]

Algy had begun to feel that although it was unquestionably exciting and a lot of fun to help his assistant with his crowdfunding campaign, it was also very tiring, and a challenging occupation for a fluffy bird. He longed to be out and about adventuring in the wild places again, so when he noticed that his assistant was fully absorbed in her work, Algy slipped quietly away and flew over to the old oak woods, where everything was peaceful and calm. The hillside woodland was very open, especially now that the trees had shed their leaves for the winter, and among the rocky outcrops there were many banks of deep heather where a weary fluffy bird could find a soft perch. So Algy picked a spot where he could rest comfortably, and for an hour or two – or three – he dozed there happily, pretending that he too was an ancient rock among the woodland heather…

The wind had died down and the world was still again – at least, for the time being…

Algy found himself a snug perch in the crook of an old oak tree, where a comfortably broad branch was covered with a soft cushion of lichen and moss. Although the day was dull and grey, Algy was feeling in excellent spirits in the calm that followed the storm, so he decided to recite a selection of light verse for the benefit of anyone who might happen to pass by on the old track below. He commenced with this edifying rhyme:

          Be kind and tender to the Frog,
             And do not call him names,
          As ‘Slimy skin,’ or ‘Polly-wog,’
             Or likewise ‘Ugly James,’
          Or ‘Gape-a-grin,’ or ‘Toad-gone-wrong,’  
             Or ‘Billy Bandy-knees’:
          The Frog is justly sensitive
             To epithets like these.
          No animal will more repay
             A treatment kind and fair;
          At least so lonely people say
          Who keep a frog (and, by the way,  
          They are extremely rare).

This post is a contribution to “No Edit Friday”, run each week by Algy’s hardworking friends at PWS photosworthseeing 🙂

[Algy is quoting the poem The Frog by the 20th century Anglo-French writer Hilaire Belloc.]

The woodlands bordered the loch, and in some places the ground dropped away steeply towards the water. Algy found himself a new perch in a twisted oak tree at the top of a slope, where he could relax and watch the play of light and water through the new spring leaves of the trees lower down the hillside. All around him, the woodland birds were singing their spring songs, and rustling among the leaves and on the mossy ground below as they went about their business. It was a lovely spot in which to while away a Sunday afternoon, and Algy hopes that you too will find such a beautiful spot in which to relax and rest :))

The wind was very gusty, and those gusts just kept on coming. Algy moved to a lower branch to be on the safe side, but he was beginning to feel somewhat shaken. The twisted old tree was strong enough, having survived many storms worse than this one, but Algy felt that maybe he wasn’t quite sturdy enough himself. Algy’s friends were saying that it was the first day of spring, but he was not entirely convinced …

There was a gale blowing up again, and Algy was feeling decidedly windswept. He found a perch in an old, weathered oak tree, which had managed to survive many seasons of storms by growing very close to the ground, but Algy was not at all sure how long he would be able to cling on to his roost in the gusty wind…

Algy found a comfortable perch in the old oak tree, and looked down into the peat bog below. He thought he could see a frog making its way through the sodden grasses of the bog, and he remembered a haiku by Issa:

          while croaking he jumps –
          frog in the rainy