I love the sound of birdsong. In our garden the Song Thrush is now letting rip with a medley of rich, repetitive phrases, some reminiscent of Nightingale. The Great Tit is also singing repetitively with loud staccato renditions of "teacher, teacher, teacher". And the Dunnock is singing too. Its song by contrast is a soft, quiet warble which may lack volume or rich tones, but it nevertheless has a pleasing quality as it gently flows and envelopes you as you listen.

My favourite is the Mistle Thrush's song. It may sound like a Blackbird at first, but listen carefully and hear the difference... short, wild phrases delivered as a defiant cry. The author Simon Barnes waxes lyrical about the song in his marvellous book, "birdwatching with eyes closed". Yet he makes no reference to its melancholy - part of the song's charm for me. Perhaps that's simply my personal interpretation. Perhaps too that's an association I make with the weather when the Mistle Thrush sings. Even dreich days in February.

Mark Winter

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