The incredible song of Common Nightingale on a spring evening is a real treat. Once you know where to find them and get the timing just right, you’ll be rewarded with a performance few other songbirds can match.
This superstar of the British summer has an illustrious repertoire that includes at least 250 different phrases: a rich, fluid and melodic warble interspersed with croaking, grunting and high pitched singular notes.
This lyrical phrasing is now becoming harder to hear as the species’ population is crashing: 90 per cent of the UK’s nightingales have vanished in the past 50 years, and their range has contracted, confining them to the south and east.
Loss of scrubby habitat is clearly a significant factor in its decline – in fact the most important UK site for the species is once again threatened by development. Lodge Hill in Medway, Kent, has for many years been a real stronghold for the species. Its patches of ancient woodland, grassland and extensive bushes form the perfect habitat for nightingales, and up to 85 singing males have been recorded here. However, the site has been earmarked for development and for more than four years there has been a campaign to save Lodge Hill for its nightingales – and the nation.
This year the National Nightingale Festival is back with a series of fantastic walks and performances across the country, a timely celebration of a Red-listed migrant which is at serious risk of being lost from Britain.
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