On a very mild early March afternoon, yet another gale is howling as I walk beneath the greening willows along Beverley brook in Richmond Park.

The water flows swiftly, deep and muddy coloured from silt in suspension. Along the grassy margins drifts of lesser celandine flowers shine and blue tits call above. Across the meadow squally rain sweeps horizontally towards me under racing leaden clouds with a few sunny gaps. In the distance a green woodpecker 'yaffles' ; jackdaws rise in large flocks; a little owl calls from dark leafless woods beyond, while dozens of black headed gulls and a pair of mallard enjoy the extensive flooded areas on either side of the brook.

I'm here hoping to hear a skylark and amazingly, given the inclement weather they don't disappoint. Up to four larks are singing in the rain, their continuous silvery song cascading down. I catch sight of one lark high above as he faces into the gale, wings quivering rapidly. After a few minutes he slowly parachutes earthwards until at about sixty feet above ground he closes his wings and plummets down into the rough sward. Skylarks employ a clever trick to fool watching predators for as he reaches the ground he runs along several metres to his nest hidden in the grass probably alongside an old ant's nest. Once there he utters brief snatches of song.

The skylarks continue singing throughout the afternoon and as I leave the park they are still singing into the sunset.

Certainly an afternoon to remember on an early spring day.