Sunday, July 05, 2009

La Alpujarra dawn chorus

Thursday June 25, 2009:


The dogs have been at their own canine chorus all night. Tuning them out, I listen to the silence as I lie in my bed. Is that a cock in the distance? Who is cheeping so insistently in the middle of the night?

Pulling my pink kaftan over my still sleep warm body, I tiptoe out of my room and into the quiet garden. I climb the stairs to the roof and lean against the rails to listen to the morning.

The cock down the road has been singing for some time. Up here, I hear another answer him. A lone sparrow has been cheeping all by itself, now I hear its companions begin to join it.

A solitary blackbird on the other side of the main house sings a florid suite of notes. I tune my ears into him hungrily. I feast on his song, picking its sweetness from amongst the tapestry of sounds, like isolating the progress of a piece of gold thread highlighting a green leaf in a busy picture.

And between blackbird and the sparrow, inserting itself into the space left beyond the crowing of the cock, I hear another song, a deeper rich tone, two clear notes, sometimes a minor fifth, sometimes a perfect fourth. Like a tuneful, lazy wolf-whistle, it pierces the air. I listen, and then begin to sing back.

Golden arcs of sound glitter from the golden oriole herself, liquid circles of beauty fill the air. For a while we duet contentedly as the sun rises over the mountains.

Beyond the blackbird, beyond the oriole, another song rises up. Robin or Wren, I wonder. Of course it is neither of these, but it trills so beautifully in the cool morning air. A Black Cap perhaps, I speculate, beginning to feel a little bit excited.

I tune my ears and listen on as I trace each songbird’s part in the gentle morning soundscape. No doves yet, I note, wondering when they are going to get out of bed, for I know they are about the place somewhere.


From amongst the general twittering of house sparrows in the old lady olive tree, I hear the gentle scirring of wings fluttering as a bird flies away. The sound is almost a Burr, a loose lipped blowing of the most tender and playful kind. I burr back and softness settles in my heart. I imagine silky wings beating against fragile leaves which shake in the morning breeze and sigh contentedly.

I climb down the stairs and stand amongst the sparrows on the lawn and allow myself to be washed in their cheerful chirping. In the distance the golden oriole calls and beyond, the blackbird sings his more complex song.

“morning," I say to the birds, the trees and the quiet courtyard and make my way towards the pool and my early morning dip.

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