The Dawn Chorus and Bursting Buds

A week ago, I wrote a post called ‘Early Birds’ about listening to the dawn chorus.  Well this morning I had the foresight to take my phone with me so that I could record it.

Here is an excerpt.  The soloist could be a thrush, given the tendency to repeat the same line two or three times, but I am very happy to be corrected by lovely birdy people. CORRECTION: Soloist is in fact a BLACKBIRD!! Thank you birdy peeps!

I also wrote about the early buds, and so thought I would update you with their progress.  I’ll visit them in the same order, so that you can compare with my post from a week ago.

The amelanchier has lost its brownish-apricot fuzz, and the flowers have unfurled.  They do look magnificent against a blue sky:

Amelanchier blossom

The crabapple’s leaves have stretched and opened to reveal the blossom buds:

crabapple leaves and blossom buds

The peach blossom is still like fairy-lights.  Orchard fruit blossom all tends to have the same basic flower-shape: a five-petalled cup with a cluster of anthers (the male parts with pollen) around the central style (the female part with a platform for the pollen to be deposited.  The ovary at the base of the style will swell to form the fruit).

Peach and apricot blossom are a lovely deep pink, with deeper pink anthers.

peach blossom

The quince hasn’t changed so much, just stretched a bit.  It is sporting some body-builder like veins on the underside of its leaves.

quince blossom buds

The pear’s claws have become talons, and you can now see the cluster of pink-tinged buds (though they will open purest white).

Pear blossom buds

The apple’s first downy leaves have opened out, and the cluster of blossom buds are swelling.

apple blossom buds

The next one is of one of our two cherry trees.  I was interested to note the clusters of four flowers.  I won’t get my hopes up, these are destined for the birds.

cherry blossom buds

Then we have our damson, ‘Farleigh’.  Lightly stewed damson is Food of the Gods.  Honestly, it could rival chocolate.  It is the thick, syrupy silkiness, and the rich bittersweetness of the skins. I wish there were a more enticing term than ‘stewed’.  Swooned?  Collapsed?  Anyone?

The damson is way ahead of our greengage, ‘Cambridge’, which looks like it will take a couple of weeks to break bud.

Damson ‘Farleigh’ blossom

When I showed my eldest daughter the next picture, she said “urgh!  don’t post that!” but I quite like an ugly bud.  This is our walnut, and it has two sorts of buds, pineappley buds, and velveteen buds.  I assume the velveteen ones are the leaf-buds, but I can’t remember what the pineappley ones do.  I will keep you posted!

Walnut buds

This is the lilac now, looking less reptilian, and positively bird-like:


And this is Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’ (guelder rose; snowball tree), looking cosy:

Virburnum opulus ‘Roseum’

Now, a little mystery tree, which I am not expecting you to identify at this stage, but I am hoping someone out there can put a name to it at some point in its future.  I just thought these diminutive little buds were worthy of attention:


And I’ll leave you with one of about three star magnolia flowers.  This is perhaps the world’s most pathetic Magnolia stellata, but it was planted in a terrible position (under a cotoneaster) and has been bashed at some point so has rather uneven spindly growth.  But this flower is lovely.  And the calyx is something you need to stroke.


Does anyone know who my soloist is in the Dawn chorus?  Or do you recognise those little red buds?  Which is your favourite spring blossom? Can you think of a more enticing term for ‘stewed’?

45 Comments Add yours

  1. Jane Lurie says:

    Wonderful close-ups, Ali. 👍🏻😊🌸

    1. Ali says:

      Yes. Or simmered! I wanted a word to convey the sqidginess too – it gets thick and mellifluous…

  2. annpappas says:

    Beautiful photos! We just don’t have dawn choruses like that anymore 😦

    1. Ali says:

      That is sad, Ann. 😢

    1. Ali says:

      Oh blow! I was going to go for blackbird then I started to doubt myself! Thank you!

  3. janesmudgeegarden says:

    I think I would have said poached as well, and I think the walnut buds are very interesting- not unlike an old fashioned beehive, or Madge Simpson’s hair! Or a funny coloured muscari.

    1. Ali says:

      I love that, Jane!

  4. Fabulous photos, Ali! I love the way you capture the character of every plant so well. There is so much that is interesting in your garden, and isn’t it amazing how things change in such a short time? Your soloist is very definitely a blackbird, but I’m taking a longshot at the mystery buds – they look like a callicarpa but the only ones I’ve ever seen are purple so (excuse the awful pun) I’m probably barking up the wrong tree completely – and botanist I am definitely not! 🙂

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Lis! Good to have confirmation, and I will have to work on my birdsong identification. Could you hear anything else you could identify?

      1. Oh, it’s hard when there are so many layers of sound! There’s more than one blackbird, I think a robin and wren and definitely a cockerel!!!!

      2. Ali says:

        Yes, no dawn chorus is complete without a cockerel!

  5. Tish Farrell says:

    A fine progress report and with ‘music’ too.

  6. Cathy says:

    Lovely photos Ali. How about ‘compôte’ which is what they call stewed fruit here. 😉

    1. Ali says:

      Compote! Of course! Perfect!

  7. Rupali says:

    Lovely both the buds and the birds chorus.

    1. Ali says:

      Glad you enjoyed it, Rupali.

  8. Beautiful photos, and so lovely to see color! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ali says:

      It’s a pleasure! How are you getting on with that snow?

  9. It is always interesting to watch the seasons travelling northwards each year. I always reckon that Warwick is about 2 weeks behind Oxford where my parents live. Seeing your orchard blossom on its way fills me with anticipation!

    1. Ali says:

      It would be so interesting to have a blossom map on the weather forecast, like they do in Japan, I think?

  10. gwingal says:

    I’m pretty sure your mystery tree is a Redbud. I love them. This post is amazing.
    🙂 gwingal

    1. Ali says:

      Ah, thank you Gwingal, and thanks so much for identifying the redbud! I remember reading about redbud a while ago, and thinking how lovely it sounded, and I had it in my garden!

  11. bcparkison says:

    My young son, many years ago ,would have called this an airplane blue sky.Love star mags and Damson is beautiful.Keep us posted on the red buds…Could it be a Red Bud tree.?

    1. Ali says:

      That is what 3 or 4 people have suggested now. The only fly in the ointment is that it gets leaves before flowers, and they hang down. It kind of looks like a blackcurrant laburnum.

      1. Ali says:

        No, hang on, scratch that, I’m getting confused with the taller tree behind it. 🤪

  12. Heyjude says:

    Lovely to listen to the morning chorus whilst browsing the flowers. The mystery looks like a ‘Judas’ tree to me (Cercis siliquastrum) always has red buds and flowers before the leaves. And I like stewed plums / damsons. No need to get fancy with me. Also LOVE damson jam. Hint hint…

    I have a mystery tree too. I shall have to post it and see if anyone can help me out.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you! That seems to be the strongest contender. How exciting that I’ve had a Judas tree and not realised it!

  13. I really love it that you focused on buds in this post–I guess because I would not have thought of noticing all of the different colors and kinds of buds. I think it is a really interesting subject. Ali, how did you learn so much about plants? I am so curious.

    1. Ali says:

      Hmm… my interest in gardening I think began during a really yuck time in my life when I needed to ground myself. I was far from home and felt the need to learn about the local wildlife because I felt alien otherwise. When I had the opportunity to make a garden back home I totally threw myself into it, and found it so healing and joyful, that I couldn’t get enough. Just spending time outdoors is a learning opportunity, because I’m curious about something I see and want to find out more.

  14. Lovely photos. Can’t help with the birdsong or the buds, sorry. Favourite spring tree blossom is the rather understated blackthorn probably followed by hawthorn for its scent.

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, I love blackthorn and hawthorn too. Love hedgerows at this time of year.

  15. Eliza Waters says:

    Beautiful blossoms and I loved listening to your dawn chorus. It has been hovering around 0C all day, so this post is most appreciated!

    1. Ali says:

      Glad you enjoyed it Eliza. Your time is coming!

  16. Valonia says:

    The birdsong is so beautiful – and so atmospheric to listen to whilst looking at your photos. I could listen to it endlessly on a loop! Thank you. 🙂

    1. Ali says:

      I’m so pleased you enjoyed it, Valonia!

  17. Island Time says:

    Lovely buds. How about “melted” damsons? Then there are the greengages….mmmmm!!

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, that is a perfect word.

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