Ward on the wild side - Just sit back and enjoy the show

PUBLISHED: 10:47 03 February 2006 | UPDATED: 21:39 28 May 2010

You will notice an increase in birdsong in February, which is great news for all of us. It is a wonderful sound, but do you find picking out and identifying the different songs of species a trial? Don't worry if you do. Identifying birds by their songs an

You will notice an increase in birdsong in February, which is great news for all of us. It is a wonderful sound, but do you find picking out and identifying the different songs of species a trial?Don't worry if you do. Identifying birds by their songs and calls is the bane of many a person that has been a keen birdwatcher for years.The best starting point is to choose just a few common birds that you will hear a lot and can practise identifying on a regular basis, even if you only do it while walking to the shops or bus stop.Garden birds are a perfect starting point. The song thrush, blackbird and robin become more vocal through February, especially towards the month's end. Spend time tracking down singing individuals of each (individual birds will be on territory, so you can rely on them to be in more or less the same place and be performing regularly). Once you've located a singer, sit back and enjoy the show. Listen carefully for any key phrases or notes that really stand out and are easy to remember, or that you can liken to another sound or even a word. The yellowhammer's 'little bit of bread and no cheese' is a fine example.Just as there are different types of music, there are also different types of bird song. I always think of the song thrush's song as being performed by an orchestra because the song is so varied and the wide variety of notes produces a real concert performance. The blackbird's song is soothing, simple and makes me think of a flute or whistle. The robin has a song that varies in pace, but a noticeable sad quality can be detected.You'll get great satisfaction from being able to 'pick out' the songs that you have then mastered. You can then start with another three - say wren, dunnock and mistle thrush. Tackling bird song in this way will soon give you an 'armoury' of bird songs and enable you to impress anyone who is wondering what that song they can hear in their garden each morning belongs to.You can try recordings as a learning aid, but for me, they don't beat the real thing heard in a natural setting. So enjoy the birdsong this month. Even if you can't recognise the song, just enjoy the performance.

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