THE LOVELY season of spring progresses apace and wild birds become more vocal as the breeding season gets into full swing and the air is filled with a variety of songs, calls and miscellaneous vocalisations.
Beauty is in the ear of the listener and bird song does not always have to be sweet to be pleasurable. One of my favourite sounds in the bird world at this time of year is the loud and strident but not very musical display calls of Herring Gulls echoing off sea cliffs or off harbour walls.
The deep 'pruk-pruk' call of Ravens is part of the pleasure of wild places as is the persistent, high-pitched scolding of a highflying Peregrine Falcon accidentally disturbed at a nest site.
A display call that was so common in the past but is now a great rarity was the hoarse and rasping 'crex-crex' call of the Corncrake. Birds only called at night. Summers seemed warmer then and nights were much darker with less light pollution. With bedroom windows wide open on balmy nights many a person fell asleep to the monotonous rasping that went on and on with only the briefest of breaks.
The Robin with its rather thin and squeaky song wins the award for being one of the few birds to sing right through the winter and the award for one of the great sounds of summer evenings goes to parties of screaming Swifts as they race over the roof tops in towns.
And little Jenny Wren gets a distinction for the sheer volume of song that emanates from her diminutive size; her tiny body appears to vibrate deep within a Bramble bush with the exertion of the metallic trilling of her ringing song.
Among the songsters my No 1 vote goes without hesitation to the Blackbird. Its familiar song, delivered from a clearly visible vantage point, is loud and clear and its melodic quality is such that that it demands one to stop and listen to its well-known mellow tones.
The song of the Great Tit is much in evidence at the moment. While the very common bird has a wide repertoire of cheerful and musical calls its song is mechanically repetitive and is reminiscent of someone vigorously using a bicycle pump.
In addition to bicycle pumping the loud song of the Great Tit is often described as being like someone repeating ‘tea-cher, tea-cher' with a seesawing, mechanical intonation.
The Great Tit is renowned for its bicycle pumping song