I’ve felt a great uplift in my mood over the last few days. Perhaps due to the rise in temperature, to the point where it isn’t cold in the car when you first get into it for the morning commute; the steering wheel no-longer numbing to the touch. It was on the way out to the car one morning, that I stopped and listened fully, for what felt like the first time this year. Two melodies floated across the airwaves and two very different ones at that. Their sonic textures signifying the contrast between rough and smooth and perhaps, dark and light. A Dunnock and a Wren.
The Wren’s song is precise. A stuttering, strafing staccato of short and spiky notes. The Dunnock is more fluid. A bubbly and positive, liquid melody. As I tuned in more, the Wren ceased to rattle, but there were now two Dunnocks, singing from different gardens and staking their territorial claims. A punch punctuates the air, disyllabic and redolent of this life-giving season – ‘teach-er’ – a Great Tit in the hedgerow, somewhere.
And more. The wheezy, descending certainty of a Chaffinch, somewhere around the Oaks – their topmost branches are house to a parliament of Rooks, harshly discussing their airs and graces from up high. Closer, the resident House Sparrows chit, chip and chatter, like the Friday-night hubbub of a packed local. The Dunnock jangles again and the glinting gadgetry of a pair of Goldfinches mechanises overhead.
It’s never just one individual bird sound, it’s all about the layers. Songs and calls, both bold and subtle and all around us. Now is the time of the year when this sonic stratification becomes more evident. Male birds are posturing and presenting to confirm territories and attract breeding partners and in their wonderfully simple world, it’s all that matters. I stop, breathe and listen – and it truly is all that matters, just for a moment.