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.

13 thoughts on “Sing a song of springtime

    1. Thank you! That’s very kind of you. I really enjoy trying to find the words to describe birdsong. I wrote in the book, that we often try to attach words to it, but it falls short. I stand by that. I’ve been spending even more time listening since this blog and sometimes it just ‘clicks’.

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  1. You have such a wonderful way with words, I could really hear the birds singing as I read your post. I had a similar experience over the weekend, it was finally warm enough to want to spend some time in the garden and we noticed just how much birdsong there was. It is so uplifting!

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    1. Thank you Harriet, that’s very kind of you. Articulating birdsong and calls into words is incredibly tough – sometimes impossible. The sounds will increase now as we enter the breeding season-proper. Can’t wait!

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  2. Hi Joe, I’ve been following your blog for a while now and wish you every success with your book. I was writing a pice about birdsong when your recent post popped up. I would love to quote parts of this in my own post (and write a bit about you and your book as well). Would you mind. Here is a link to my draft post:

    ‘The Magic of Birdsong’.

    https://artin.artinnature.co.uk/?p=3224&preview=true

    I haven’t got all your biographical details correct yet – you do so many things – but will seek your approval again before I publish.

    Clive

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      1. Thanks Joe, that’s really great. I’ll send you a link to the final draft before I publish. My son has Aspergers and is Dyspraxic – bird watching has been a great help. We live in the country so it’s easy to forget others don’t always have the same advantage. Your book should be a winner.

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  3. Hi Joe,
    Since finding out about your blog by a friend and writing in your About section I have been having techno probs with word press since upgrading to premium account. I seem to have missed your posts.
    This post seemed to speak to me and remember in February recognising sets of different birdsong welcoming the spring.
    I am new to birdwatching and can only identify a few but I have always loved birds.
    Hopefully I will get more involved since joining wigan branch of r.s.p.b.
    Lovely post, thanks.

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