Friday, 5 June 2015

30 Days Wild | Day 5 - revising to birdsong

On to day 5 of 30 Days Wild, and my revision for my oceanography exam is getting intense - today I did my first past exam paper as practice, it was pretty traumatic! But hey, you learn from your mistakes, so I can say I've definitely learnt a lot today ;o) 

As I've been stuck at my desk all day, my random act of wildness has been to listen to one of my birdsong CDs while revising. I've got a few of these - some that came free with a newspaper a few years ago which are a bit hit and miss (although it can never hurt to have more resources to refer to when you're trying to work out what bird you might have heard!), and the British Library Bird Sounds on CD which is what I listened to today. This one is a bit more systematic, it includes both songs (if the bird is likely to be singing while present in the UK - not the case for some wintering species) and calls for all birds you're likely to hear in this country. I've put the contents of all these CDs on my phone too for reference when I am out birding.

A great bird sounds resource!
I think that listening to and learning bird sounds is for me at least the most immediate and rewarding way to connect with nature - you can hear birds everywhere and you don't even have to spend time looking for them if you're busy doing something else - just hearing and knowing them while you're going about your daily routine instantly connects you with your natural environment. It's probably no coincidence that I am also a big music fan, I think there is a lot in common between the experiences of listening to birds and music in terms of recognising patterns, melodies and rhythms and learning and appreciating the individual sounds of both birds and musical artists. 

Like music, bird sounds can be very evocative and there are certain ones which remind me of very specific times and places. Blackbird song always takes me back to playing in the back garden of my parents' house in summer as a child, it seemed like there was always a Blackbird perched on the apex of our roof, singing his head off! Willow Tit is another one, when I was first getting into birding I volunteered at St Nicholas Fields in York where my main role was to walk the reserve on a weekly basis and keep a record of all the birds I found. There were some old records of Willow Tit on the reserve but the St Nicks team didn't know if they were still around, so my mission became to rediscover them, which I eventually did - it was a momentous occasion for me! Sadly Willow Tits have now died out at St Nicks, but even now I still get a small thrill every time I hear one.

More generally, there are bird sounds which remind me of particular landscapes or seasons - hearing a Curlew always evokes bleak coastal marshes and mudflats, Linnets put me in mind of sunny scrubby heaths with Gorse aplenty, Swifts are the sound of summer and Redwings the sound of autumn!

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