I've heard the first song thrushes singing already this year! So I thought it a good time to post this little story, that I was originally intending to post a bit later in the year! The Dells are the part of the Water of Leith that I help to look after in my work as a volunteer for the Water of Leith Conservation Trust.
There are reports that our numbers are declining. Not here though. Song thrushes still sing in the Dells as we have done for centuries.
History weaves its way through the generations of our sung sagas. We sing of the armies who marched through these woods with Cromwell, laying waste to nature and human settlements. We sing of the wealthy estate owners who used to hunt deer through the trees and built walled gardens that they could see from their hilltop mansions. We sing of the times when this area was busy with mill-workers and the river was the most polluted in Scotland. We sing of the railway that roared straight through the heart of the woodlands. We sing of a great fire that brought an end to the mills.
We sing in a place that is now a green and peaceful woodland. People walk and cycle where the trains used to roar. Wild flowers grow where the mills once clattered. The waters are full of trout and fished by herons and kingfishers.
But there are still disturbances. Downstream the council is cutting down trees and building walls to stop floods. This is all bad news for our kind, though in fifty years the walls will be reclaimed by nature, just as has happened to older walls along stretches of the river.
At weekends young people party and set fire to the grass and damage the trees. They are young and hopefully will learn. Upstream a man with a chainsaw is killing trees, but the police will catch him and protect us from him.
Further afield though it doesn't sound good. Our cousins' homes are threatened by high speed railways, mining and shopping malls. We sing to spread the word about these threats but we also sing of hope. Hope that people will see sense and understand the value of woodlands, not only for us and the other birds and animals that live here, but also for them, the humans.
Every person who wakes up early and hears us sing, starts to understand a little better.
Everyone who understands, can help us and the woodlands to thrive. So we keep singing and the Dells remain as a place of magic.