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Songs of Springtime

20th April 2024 @ 6:06am – by Adrian Leighton
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Songs of Springtime

Although we live in a world full of sound , it is our sight that most often feeds our brain with information. We tend to think that our eyes are more reliable informants than our ears. Certainly our sight has a greater impact on us. We live in such a visual environment that we can lose what our hearings is telling us. Our ancestors would have been much more sensitive to sounds. So on a walk I determined to focus my attention on what I could hear. At this time of year the most obvious sound seeking attention is the song of birds. Indeed many are in full voice at the moment marking out territories, seeking a mate, protecting food source.

It was once thought that it was only the males were made the noise , but more recent research has revealed that the females can be just as forthcoming.

So, as it was once said, “pin back your lug-holes”, and listen out for the following.

The first that I listen out for in Spring is the Great Tit. It has quite a large repertoire, but the one you mostly hear in Spring is a ear-catching song which sounds like “Teacher Teacher” sung very quickly and repeated insistently. Sometimes you will hear another Great Tit responding in the same way setting up a duet over quite a distance.

The next of our Springtime vocalist is the Robin. Well-known by sight but sings out in Spring , not for our pleasure (or though we might get pleasure from it) but fiercely to defend its territory. If you find it starts singing when you come near, it may not be for delight but a warning to keep off!. Its warbling song is often delivered from a high point on a tree for maximum effect.

A Spring arrival from Africa is a woodland bird that is more often heard than seen. Indeed early Spring is the best time to see it’ before the leaves are on the trees. Just follow its very distinctive “Chiff Chaff”. A member of the warbler family the Chiffchaff is a delicate small bird closely resembling a Willow Warbler.

There is one Spring songster that I remember from my childhood. It takes me back to April and May evenings when the clocks have changed and I and my friends could come home from school, have our tea then get out in the evenings to play. Invariably there would the sound of a Blackbird at full gusto with its mellow, fluty song. It was the sound track to our “cowboys and indians” game.( How life has changed!)

Of the five I have chosen, this last may surprise you as it comes from a very common bird which is often thought of as a pest. Although its sound can be heard any time during the day it is again the evening time when it seems most evocative. When I say that is sounds like “coo-cooo-coo” you may respond “pigeon” . Yes the common or garden Wood Pigeon. Its sound both calming to the mind and at times intensely annoying often comes to us from roof top. Sometimes you may hear a more delicate and higher pitched “coo-cooo-cuh”coming from a tree in which case it may well be the very attractive Collared Dove, it is distinctive black collar and wing tips identifying it. Sometimes you may see two tother the proper “love birds”.

So sometimes just close your eyes and drink in the the sounds of life all around that is responding to the lengthening of days and prospect of new life. For these creatures a song of purpose for us a sound of joy. I wonder where we get that from?

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