05 May, 2013

Ode to a Nightingale

Found myself heading off to Bookham Common yesterday evening to catch up with a bird- or rather a bird sound- that I've been hoping to hear for years. Up until yesterday evening, I've never heard the song of a Nightingale. It's one of those sounds that everyone needs to experience in their life at least once, and with almost one fifth of my life gone, I'm running out of time fast.

It's no secret that Bookham is one of the best sites in Surrey for Nightingale, and on this occasion, I wasn't disappointed. Almost immediately upon stepping out the car at Little Bookham car park, a distant male started up amongst the late evening dusk chorus. Initially locating the source of the song was easier said than done, with a loud mix of Blackbird, Song Thrush and Blackcap all singing from various perches throughout the maze of bushy scrub, not helped by the fact that the Nightingale would often go silent for long periods of time, before starting up again further down the path.

I eventually pinned him down to a row of blossoming Blackthorn hedges, where he sang uninterrupted for a good fifteen minutes. It was absolute bliss to listen to. I've heard various recordings, but nothing compared to the real thing- blossom, sunset and all. Sublime.

I attempted a few grainy sound recordings; the first time I've tried with the D300s. The camera picks up quite a bit of annoying wind, as well as a nearby Blackbird competing with the Nightingale for the title of loudest songster in Bookham, but you can get the gist of things. If you want the full shebang, have a listen to this. Here are the attempts though, just for the record. The bird went a lot quieter in the second clip, but I liked the signature burst of Nightingale at the end.


*Queue compulsory copying and pasting of the final part of that random old-fashioned romantic poem about a Nightingale written by that bloke in the olden times to make the post have more effect and seem more emotional and intellectual and stuff* ...

Adieu! Adieu! Thy plaintive anthem fades,

Past the near meadows, over the still stream,

Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep

In the next valley-glades:

Was it a vision, or a waking dream?

Fled is that music:- do I wake or sleep?

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