This morning I woke up with the dawn chorus. I am naturally an early bird, and at this time of year, I wake at exactly the right time to witness this spring wonder. I decided to go out into the garden in my dressing gown for ten minutes or so, just so I could listen properly. What a busy place it is at that time!
A few years ago our family took an early morning bird walk around the estate at Sissinghurst with the ranger. I found it fascinating that he could identify so many species by their song. I imagined that his sensory experience of the world is so different to mine, and wondered if he sort of paints a picture in his mind of where all these birds are and what they might be doing? We kept a list of birds heard or spotted, and I think we got up to forty or fifty by the end of the walk. I did retain the memory of chaffinch and chiff-chaff song, but I think I need to revise!
This morning, the soloist was the blackbird. What a stunningly beautiful song it was! He sang out from our peach tree, which is just starting to blossom, but his song outshone the tree. There were trills and warbles, rising and falling notes, repeated refrains, pauses for the chorus…
The chorus was more amorphous – unseen in the cloisters of next door gardens and high-up in the balcony of woodland trees. There were burbles of starlings and coos of collared doves and woodpigeons. A percussion of house sparrows from the eaves of the house. Every now and again the cockerel’s clarion call. A surprisingly loud wren from the hedge! A robin added definition. And then I heard the arpeggios of a chaffinch.
My head turned this way and that, and I spotted a bat! It was bouncing in wild circles, coming closer and closer, making me admire its silhouette against the pink sunrise.
I have an affinity with bats. Perhaps inevitable, given that my name is Battye.
I don’t have any pictures of birds or bats, not being a wildlife photographer. But I do have some pictures of buds. Early buds. Will these do?
Amelanchier was first to sing out. It has has a pinkish-brown fuzz all along the top of its branches. When you get up close, you see the first leaves, holding coiled cones of blossom buds, with a little bit of fuzzy down, blowing in the breeze.
Then crabapple, perhaps Malus ‘Royalty’? The leaves burst forth first, and then there are deepest cherry pink blossoms a little later. It looks like it is stretching its wings right now.
The peach tree is the first fruit tree to blossom: a wonderful bright pink. The blossom is sparse, but twinkles like fairy lights across the garden.
It will soon be followed by quince, the softest little nests:
and pear, with its protective claws:
and apple, which has been wearing a windproof jacket and lots of woolly layers, but is starting to throw them off:
Here is a cherry, with its tight little buds, all neatly arranged:
And lilac, looking prehistoric; reptilian:
It is all happening with the early birds and early buds. First the scales, and then the symphony.
What are your favourite early birds or early buds at this time of year? Do you wake with the birds? Are you inspired by the dawn chorus?