What a difference a week makes. Since last week’s visit the trees are finally starting to get their leaves! This special halfway-house moment doesn’t last very long, neither does the blossom in the hedgerows (Blackthorn?). Another good rehearsal with the choir, polishing things for 18 May. Next week we start rehearsing some of the fragments I’m writing that will be included in the final piece.
As usual with the dawn recordings I go and visit the site the afternoon before. This time, on the advice of Alan Snook (the person who does the Mottisfont bird survey/reports – and very knowledgeable about anything with feathers) I went to Great Copse at the northern end of the estate. I got there about 5pm and there was just about total silence – hardly a bird singing or calling. Plenty of other interest, most notably Bluebells and Wood Anemones, this small white flowers with their wide-open flowers on upright stems that move in the breeze that comes up from the bottom of the valley.
Returning at 4.30am today Great Copse was completely silent. There was ice on the car and the moon was up. The Wood Anemone flowers were all closed up and bent over on their stems. After a little while the chorus started with a Blackbird, next a Robin, a Song Thrush and then a Cuckoo. The Cuckoo continued calling for the next hour or so, never getting very close. Highlight of Great Copse was a Great Tit (two-note call) and a Blackcap (bubbling song) competing for airspace at very close quarters. I stopped recording at the arrival of the first dog walker (5.50am) and drove down to the Rectory Beat – the stretch of river (not open to the general public) opposite the entrance to the visitor car park. Mist was still hanging over the meadow and river. The highlight here was something I hadn’t recorded at Mottisfont before – a Sedge Warbler. It has a very scratchy song that starts with the clear metallic notes. This particular bird was also making short display-song flights.
I would have liked to upload some bits of Sedge Warbler, Blackcap and Great Tit – but it seems that this blog can’t do audio. To get an idea of the song of the birds I’ve been talking about go to xeno-canto.com – a great site for birdsong from all over the world!