Tuesday 2 June 2015

Listen to the birds

For day 2 of The Wildlife Trust's 30 Days Wild campaign I decided to listen to the birds. I lead birdwatching walks and at this time of the year we very much focus on birdsong. A lot of people complain that birdsong can be difficult to learn and it can indeed be tricky, particularly as most birds only sing for a few months a year. I always say that if you can't learn to identify birds by song, then just learn to appreciate the sound.

Birdsong is beautiful!

So today I started by listening to the blackbird that was singing very early in the morning. We don't have much of a dawn chorus in the centre of Edinburgh, but the blackbird is a reliable early bird.

As I type this, I can hear a chaffinch singing outside my window, a goldfinch flew by a minute ago, twittering and a lesser black-backed gull called briefly.

One of my favourite places to listen to birds is Musselburgh, so that's where I went today! The first of several house sparrows was tweeting to greet me as soon as I got off the bus. I also heard immediately the soft twitterings of house martins, which were swlrling around above the Bridge over the River Esk and in fact all along the river, often low above the water. They were in large groups with swifts and sand martins but these birds weren't making any noise as far as I could tell (it's been very windy today which has made it more difficult to hear all the bird song).

Walking along the John Muir Walkway I heard skylarks, their joyful endless song is one of my favourite sounds. In the grass, male reed buntings were singing to each other, I love their hesitant song. Up in the scrub woodland, I heard a song thrush repeating its fluting phrases, blackcaps with their tuneful warbles and willow warblers with their voices descending the scale.

When I got to the Lagoons bird reserve, I heard a woodpigeon cooing in the trees and more willow warblers. I heard a chiffchaff repeating it's name and there it suddenly was on a branch in front of my face! A lovely tiny bird, putting a lot of effort into singing against the wind. I also heard a blackbird alarm call and saw the bird chasing something through the trees. There were also a lot of quiet indeterminate cheeps and chirps from the bushes, probably young birds calling for food. I saw (and tried to photograph) a lovely juvenile robin, who was silent but very active. This was all by the side of the short path from the entrance of the reserve to the hides!

I was sheltered from the wind in the hides and enjoyed the warm sun as I looked out over the lagoons. A large flock of starlings was chattering away flying from pond to pond. A curlew called once, a haunting cry from the back of the lagoons. There weren't a lot of birds to see or hear on the lagoons, though it was lovely to see swallows and martins flying low over the water.

What birdsong have you heard today?

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks which take you to other webpages where you can find out more. I've linked each bird name (where it first occurs in the post) to the relevant page on the website of the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) where you can hear its song as well as find out more about the species.


Ian Doyle said...

Always nice to listen to birds. We have a resident Blackbird who sings loudly early every morning before the Robin joins in. Sounds like you've had a good day listening to birds, good one.

eileeninmd said...

Sounds like a lovely day, listening to the birds and enjoying nature. Have a happy day!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I am definitely one of those who has problems with birdsong ID, but also definitely one who loves hearing them sing. I'm gradually getting a little better, but it doesn't come naturally. I enjoyed walking with you virtually ... And I bet if I were really along for one of your walks I'd learn a lot!

Bill said...

windy . . .
the song of a blackbird
passing by

Rambling Woods said...

I hear before I see birds usually...