Brace yourself. I’m about to give you a rich gift. It’s probably the greatest gift I’m capable of giving anybody, and if you accept it fully, it will change your life forever. Not that I’m overstating anything. If you really do accept this gift, you’ll come to agree that it’s a pretty modest assessment.
It’s February and spring is already well underway, the world committed to the transition to longer and warmer days, days in which life is jumping with the effort to make more life – just listen to the birds.
And here’s the one to listen out for. You can hear it in the countryside, in the suburbs, in gardens and parks, and even in the heart of town: a bird that sings two or three phrases all the same, then shifts to a different phrase and repeats that one too. Then onto the next, usually different again. The phrases can be declamatory, sometimes fluty, sometimes challenging and modern, but they’re always short and always repeated. Here’s an example: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/song-thrush/
No two song thrushes sound exactly the same. Each male has a different repertoire: sometimes imitating other birds, or natural or manmade sounds. But there’s always that repetition: that delight in doing it again – and then moving on to something new. Every song thrush sounds different: but always sounds like a song thrush.
There have been two or three singing round my place: the first one started on January 28. The place is transformed as a result: we’re no longer hanging on hoping to get through the winter, we’re moving into spring with a lot of hope and a fair bit of a swagger.
So listen out for the bird that repeats itself. Repeats and then moves on. It’s not just a song thrush: It can be, if you wish, the portal into the world of birdsong. And that’s one of the great joys of my life.