It is a source of sadness to me, however, that (sense of rhythm apart) I am not more musical. Music and mathematics often go hand in hand, and I am absolutely dreadful at mathematics!
I enjoy singing, largely by ear, and I listen to a variety of musical styles for pleasure. However, when it comes to birdsong, I have great difficulty in distinguishing one bird's call from another, with the exception of a few distinctive species such as the Robin, Blackbird, Pheasant, Curlew, Bittern etc.
I am doing my best - little by little - to rectify this situation. Naturally there are bird songs that are practically impossible to miss, and we have been privileged on recent nature reserve visits to enjoy two of these from the iconic songsters of British springtime, the Cuckoo and the Nightingale.
I once heard the Cuckoo from my study here in our Suffolk home. I particularly crave Cuckoo song when I am in Scotland and the two note call reverberates like a pebble across the unbroken surface of a loch or a sound. Last year we heard Cuckoo song in an Essex bluebell wood. Only yesterday we experienced it ringing out, woodwind style, across the wide expanses of Redgrave and Lopham Fen, home of the rare Fen-Raft Spider. We thought we saw two Cuckoos as they darted around the fen, but the Cuckoo is generally a bird for the ear rather than for the eye, and it is only the male of the species who utters the distinctive song.
|Reed Bunting at Redgrave and Lopham Fen, Suffolk Wildlife Trust|
|A Fen Raft Spider pool at Redgrave and Lopham Fen|
We visited Fingringhoe Wick Nature Reserve, in the care of Essex Wildlife Trust, some weeks ago. The site is surrounded by superb estuarine views. There are trees, shrubs and gorse for cover. We were told that the Nightingales were singing. We were asked whether we had heard their song before, to which we answered that we were not aware of having done so. The warden tried to describe the song, but said he was sure we could not fail to hear it. He was right! We had hardly reached the first viewpoint when the air filled with the exquisite notes of the bird in question. I think there is little doubt that we shall know it at once on our next encounter.
|The entrance to the reserve at Fingringhoe, Essex Wildlife Trust|
Did we see the Adders or the the other star species? Well, no - but we came away with the sound of nightingale music in our ears.