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Day 25 - 30 Days Wild

Posted: Sunday 25th June 2017 by trustadmin

Bird songs (part 2)

I had trouble sleeping last night. I think it was my leg freshly liberated from its cast that was causing the problem. It just didn’t want to settle, and woke me up several times. I was awake, for example, at 5am. I know that because I checked on my alarm clock, and also because the first birds were singing.

Ever an opportunist I decided to take advantage of my insomnia and start my ’30 Days Wild’ early. I did ‘bird songs’ a few days ago – but that was a cheat really as I just listed my favourite songs with birds in the title. Now it was time to do it properly, and dissect the dawn chorus bird by bird. I got as far as blackbird and fell asleep.

When I woke for proper I decided to continue where I had left off. The dawn chorus was obviously over, but there was still noise coming from the garden, mainly from birds squabbling over the feeder. I guessed at sparrows, starlings, and magpies. I looked out the window to check. Sparrows and starlings were correct, but the magpies were in fact, jackdaws.

There’s a reason I’ve been putting off a task involving bird song, and it’s because I’m not very good at them. Generally I’m ok with birds when I can see them but when they start singing - it’s a whole different story! I have a poor auditory memory, I guess. It’s a shame as it’s a really useful skill for a birdwatcher, and one that can save you hours trying to work out what exactly is singing three foot inside those hawthorns. There are a few songs however that I know and these, by default, make up my list of favourite real bird songs.

I think chiffchaff would be top of the list. It’s clear and obvious, and is onomatopoeic. It might as well be introducing itself to you personally. It’s also a sign that better days are ahead.

For that same reason I love the constant chattering of swifts, swallows, and house martins, though don’t ask me to tell them apart! I like the shrill of the skylark as it wavers up and down in the air, another bird happy to announce itself to the world. Geese as they fly overhead; and the gentle cooing of woodpigeons would also be on that list.

Not strictly a song, but the tapping of a woodpecker is always exciting. The Holy Grail for me though is the cuckoo. I heard it all the time as a child growing up in Shropshire, but I’ve not heard one since I’ve been back in the UK. I did see one a few weeks back on a Neston bike ride. I nearly fell off my bike - it didn’t call though.

That’s more or less my list. Not very impressive, but maybe there’s a lesson there - sometimes you don’t need to know everything. It can be enough to just sit back and enjoy your ignorance.

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