To explain something that you yourself do not understand can be extremely heart-warming. It can become so warm that even cold hard facts cannot put the matter to rest. I have been trying to sort out larks, as in identify, classify and file in the correct folder, for many years. My initial thought was to wait a bit until I was able to identify and list all the easy ones, putting all the LBJs (Little Brown Jobs for all the non-birders) on a sort of waiting-list. After many years I came to the conclusion that before I want to get to grips with larks, I first had to differentiate between larks and pipits, maybe even the odd scrub robin. I have been busy with this process into the small hours of the morning for more than ten years and have come to the conclusion that to master the art of this very intricate process I need to buy some more books.
Text and Photographs Pompie Burger
I started with bird books, but later I realised an anatomy book will also come in handy. Much later I came to the realisation that sounds/music/calls/whistles/singing are indispensable, so CDs were next on my shopping list. It does not make them more attractive when Roberts, the father of birds in southern Africa, describes these birds as drab, but remember, “We are ugly, but we have got the music” (Leonard Cohen). Without going into the gory details as far as books are concerned, I have gone through a stack of bird books (LBJs made simple, Look-alike birds, Chamberlain’s LBJs, “LBJs for the stupid”, etc), bought, begged, stole and borrowed (to be returned as soon as I am able to sort out the lark/pipit saga). To “complify” the problem, the habitat where you find the birds will also affect the identification, for which you also will need a few more books (atlases).
I started off with the listening (CD) part. Apparently this is the most important part of lark identification. Listening to music is a very relaxing and satisfying activity because you can study the calls/music much better, lying down, eyes closed.