Monday, 13 May 2013

Tweets at Dawn

This week was the start of Radio 4's Tweet of the Day series. Having missed international dawn chorus day a few weeks ago (5th May) I have been enjoying these daily ventures into the world of birdsong, although I admit I tend to listen on iplayer in the evenings rather than live at 6am.

The first five episodes heard David Attenborough narrating the calls of the cuckoo, song thrush, swift, wood warbler and the first of a two part-er on the nightingale. Despite being only 90 seconds long each episode manages to be both relaxed and very informative giving a welcome break from the busyness of the day. If I were awake at 6am it would be a lovely way to start my mornings!

If you haven't managed to catch them yet, here are the links to the episodes so far (well worth a listen!) and a few facts that particularly caught my ear.

Cuckoo: In the past people thought that cuckoos transformed into sparrow hawks when summer was done, and then spent the winter in this form until spring came and they changed back.

Song Thrush:  Each call is repeated twice by the song thrush, making it an easy song to identify in the noisy dawn chorus.

Swift: Travelling up to 500 miles a day to feed; a large part of a swift's daily diet is spiders floating through the air on threads of silk!

Wood Warbler: The call of this bird sounds very like "a spinning coin on a marble slab". Males will watch an area of woodland to check for ground mammals before building a nest on the woodland floor.

Nightingale: Despite their name, nightingales will sing during the day as well as at night. Like the cuckoo and swift, nightingales are summer migrants travelling yearly from Africa.

By the time this blog goes live the second part of the nightingale's story will be up online, and I look forward to hearing it when I wake up. Birdsong is one of my favourite sounds. I've heard all five birds featured so far in the series, I hear song thrush and swifts quite often close to home while hearing a cuckoo or nightingale is always a memorable moment. Wood warbler is one I'd rarely notice although I must hear it throughout the spring and summer, but maybe I'll notice it's call a bit more from now on.

I'm looking forward to hearing grey herons, shags, garden warblers and redshanks, among others, over the coming weeks and knowing that there will be a few moments of birdsong in my day for the next year (even if I never set foot outside) is already putting a smile on my face and a spring in my step. What about you?

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