Monday, 13 June 2016
Listening to Birds for 30 Days Wild
It was another dull and damp morning today, but I set off for my weekly volunteering session anyway! (You can read more about my volunteering here). As I waited at the bus stop I watched 11 swifts flying round, shrieking occasionally as they went! Colinton Dell along the Water of Leith was full of birds singing and calling! I heard: blackbird, song thrush, robin, blue tit, bullfinch, dipper, blackcap, chiffchaff, chaffinch, wren, jackdaw, woodpigeon and buzzard. If you click on each bird's name in that list you'll be taken to the appropriate page on the RSPB website where you can find out more about the bird, including the chance to listen to a sound file of the bird's song or call.
Birdsong is beautiful to listen to, it's wonderful to be in the woods, surrounded by the different songs and calls. Some people find it difficult to identify birds by their songs and if that's the case for you then don't force yourself to try to learn the songs but just enjoy them! If you can learn them though, it can add an extra element to birdwatching. You may be able to hear birds that you can't see and get a more complete picture of what's around. You can tell the difference between certain tricky species much better by song (the chiffchaff repeats its name over and over, while the willow warbler has a lovely cascading warble, yet if you try to tell them apart you need to be close enough to tell that the willow warbler has pale legs while the chiffchaff has dark legs, oh and the willow warbler has longer wings as it flies further on migration, but that can be even harder to see!).
This is one of the best times of year to listen to birdsong, at its very best if you get up earlier enough to hear the dawn chorus! But even during the day in a woodland (specially after rain!) there can be a lovely range of song and there's often a lovely dusk chorus too. Birds sing at this time of year to mark out their territory and to attract a mate. So outside the breeding season most birds don't sing (other than robins, where the male and female both sing in the winter). Birds call to each other all year of course so you'll still hear them!
The best way to learn birdsong is to start in January and listen to the sound files on the RSPB website. Then when the birds start singing (which can be as early as February for some species) you can go out and hear them. Hopefully you'll have got your ear in a bit for the resident bird-songs before the migratory birds arrive and start singing later in Spring!
What's your favourite birdsong?
for 30 Days Wild.