Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 1 May 1917, this little insight into the sounds of the countryside a century ago makes for an enchanting read.
But there’s a more sombre angle to take note of as well: with the numbers of songbirds declining in the UK, our dawn chorus is getting harder and harder to hear. The sounds of spring today are much less rich than in our parents’ and grandparents’ generation.
SongBird Survival aims to save the dawn chorus for tomorrow by researching the reasons for songbird decline in the UK, and promoting solutions to restore their numbers.
With International Dawn Chorus Day taking place this weekend, Sunday 7th May, now is a fantastic time to get outdoors and hear this wonderful natural spectacle for yourself.
Great article in the Guardian about the Swedish art of gökotta. With International Dawn Chorus Day next month, there’s plenty to get up early for at this time of year!
Swedes call it ‘early cuckoo morning’ – the act of getting up just to enjoy the first birdsong.
Read more here: Source – Sunshine releases all the sounds of spring | Environment | The Guardian
Spring has well and truly sprung, and the keen gardeners among you will have been beavering away in your garden for weeks already. If you’re less keen, or completely new to gardening, here are some seasonal tips to get you started with gardening for wildlife.
Most birds rely on a variety of foods such as insects, slugs, snails, worms, pollen, fruit, buds and seeds. Having a range of these available should attract a variety of birds to your garden. Creating diverse habitats and food sources will also attract a wide range of insects and small mammals.
Turfed or paved, big or small, whatever garden you have, there are easy steps to make it more wildlife-friendly:
Anything that attracts insects will attract birds
Pollen-rich flowers look pretty and offer plenty of food for insects. Planted in borders or in pots, they’re a great way to attract invertebrates to your patch. Try these plants for early-summer blooms:
If you have more space for planting, many shrubs like Buddleia and Forsythia and fruiting trees like Cherry and Apple attract bees, butterflies and other insects, and birds like to eat the buds as well.
Aim for a variety of heights and shapes
Different heights of plant will attract different types of birds – many species prefer to nest at particular heights.
Dense ground-cover will protect small animals and birds from predators – try Fuchsia, Berberis, Pyracantha & perennials (spiky plants will deter predators!).
Tall hedges often have many species of bird nesting at the same time and provide habitat for a wide range of other creatures – why not plant a natural hedge including Hornbeam, Field Maple, Blackthorn, Wild Cherry and Dog Rose?
For small gardens where space is at a premium, planting climbers is a great way to attract insects and provide extra height and levels of habitat; try Jasmine, Ivy, Clematis and Honeysuckle. Some trees will also do well in containers, or build a pergola and grow Roses or Passionflowers.
Bushy shrubs and trees will provide extra nesting sites as well as escape routes – Amelanchia and Hazel are good examples.
Don’t be too tidy!
Lawns are a surprising source of food for ground feeders like thrushes and blackbirds, where they can hunt for worms; and woodpeckers also hunt out ants. Try not to mow your lawn too often – by allowing wild flowers to grow, this can make a huge difference to your wildlife.
Rotting logs and crumbling walls not only encourage insects, but also mosses and lichens – all excellent food sources for birds.
Is your garden paved? Do you have a patio or yard? If not, consider adding some large stones to your garden which birds can use to help break into snail shells.
If you have small pond, perhaps consider adding a boggy area to create more habitat.
Ferneries can also combine many of the requirements needed for insects, snails, slugs, frogs, hedgehogs and therefore birds, as well as a solution to that dark dank corner of the garden where nothing else will grow!
Happy gardening! Remember to let us know who comes to visit this year – we’d love to hear from you and see your photos on our Facebook page.