Monday, May 04, 2009

Saluting the song birds


Sunday May 3, 2009:

ON this year of the birds, it is only right that I mark International Dawn Chorus Day. It’s not so easy to get up this morning. My body has not yet adjusted to the alarmingly early start two days ago. Still, the thought of the birds does the trick.

As we step out of the taxi in a pleasant suburban street in Kilburn, the song thrushes are giving it some welly. Our guide, Dave the conservationist tells us that they are the first birds to sing this morning – which is surprising as the blackbird is famously usually the first bird of the day.

We stand on the street and listen to their song. They find a phrase they like and sing it several times. Then they find another and sing that several more times. There are three birds, we think.

Ah now here comes the blackbird – a deeper richer sound. He sings away and I feel my face crack into a proud smile. That’s my bird, I think as he dominates the air.

WE walk about inside the little nature reserve next to the railway line to Euston. It’s a little haven of meadows and trees. Soon, the robins begin to sing, then the wood pigeon.

The air thins as it always does at dawn. Imperceptibly, it grows warmer. Now comes a great tit, chirruping away. And then, dominating by volume, the little wren begins to sing his heart out.

I stand amongst damp bushes and allow myself to be washed of sleep and sadness. I imagine the silver song flowing over me, feel it creep into my joints and they begin to feel better. Ah, this is the life!


It’s six am. The birds have been singing for two hours. Suddenly, they quieten down. It is our cue to seek out breakfast.

Hunger satisfied, we walk back down the road away from the little nature reserve. Dave hollers after us. We turn and climb down as he has heard the black cap sinning. WE join him and listen as the little bird offers us titbits of its warbling song. Our chorus complete, we make our way home.

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