Rural Reading: Bird song turns to early alarmBy Adrian Lawson
July 09, 2010
One thing I like is to wake to the sound of bird song and, having trees right outside the house and a window open in warm weather, I get plenty to listen to.
Having lots of trees and hedges also means that I have lots of birds’ nests. I have had at least a dozen families in my garden this year.
In the front garden I have been following the antics of a pair of blackbirds who nest in the hedge that separates our garden from our neighbours, which is next to where we park our car.
The female has a white face and is very distinctive. I have watched her collecting nesting material, collecting food for her brood and, recently, overseeing the fledging of the young from the nest. We had to check under the car before we drove off as the youngsters were often hiding underneath it.
We also had a pair of dunnocks, well three actually, raising a brood in the hedge that separates the garden from the road.
So having those two families has meant quite a bit of birdsong to wake up to, and occasionally there has been a goldfinch singing from the top of one of the trees too.
But last week was a bit less entertaining. The young blackbirds awoke from their first night out of the nest to begin a sharp call to keep in touch with their parents. It wasn’t tuneful, but it did attract the magpies. Two or three were repeatedly chattering from the roof tops. This encouraged the parent blackbirds to repeatedly call out in alarm.
The dunnock youngsters called a loud single note – not quite a whistle, not quite a call – but it was penetrating and persistent.
All this had been going on for half an hour before I looked at the clock... 4am. I turned over and tried to get back to sleep when the harsh call of a mistle thrush intruded on the mêlée.
Was this because a sparrowhawk had arrived? Should I go out and have a look? Could I go out and shoo all the birds away so I could get back to sleep?
I never managed to nod off again, and at six I got up and took the dogs for a walk to the sleepy meadows down by the river where hardly anything stirred at all.