Monday, 10 September 2012

The Silence is Broken

Have you noticed the slow return of bird song to your garden?

For six to eight weeks at the end of the breeding season, the song birds we have all enjoyed listening to and watching as they forage for food in the garden have all but disappeared.  Where did they go and why? 

Well, the why is easy: the migratory birds such as the Willow Warbler and Blackcap (photographed in previous posts), or the Whitethroat - pictured below singing in the quarry near home, have all stopped the singing used to attract mates and mark their territory in spring and early summer, as all that hard work has been done.  They will soon be heading south for the winter.  (Some blackcaps stay in the UK).

The where: before heading off they would have joined our resident birds, the Robins, Blackbirds, Tits etc., as they flit among the heavily leavened trees and bushes in the countryside, hiding from our view, so as to take time to renew their feathers and prepare for winter either here or further afield.  There would have been plenty of food available in the wild, so no need to visit our gardens.   Sparrows and Starlings seem to stay around the houses though.  You might have seen the odd ragged Blackbird pottering under the bushes in the garden - but you wouldn't have heard it singing.

But now, as always in early September, the first sounds of the local birds can be heard.  The Blue and Great Tits are singing high in the trees and the plaintive sound of the Robin, or the early bursts of song from the Wren, can be heard from the bushes.  Soon the Blackbird will be singing from atop the lamp post at dusk, and all the wintering residents, and some visitors (including Robins and Blackbirds from further north), will be settling in our gardens for the much needed food that we provide to see them through the winter.  And then we can enjoy their songs early next year as the whole cycle of life begins again!



  1. A lot of birds here now coincidentally buzzard has gone.
    Along the prom today just between the swimming pool and the cafe, we saw a lot of diving birds . Quite a sight as they plunged into the sea from a height. They were black with a white under belly. Any ideas?
    I might have a look again tomorrow, if I get time, and try a photo but I think they were a bit far out. Any way I looked up the bird book and it's quite confusing.

  2. Hi Zimmie - these birds are probably juvenile Gannets. They dive from quite low, and look very dark from the distance we view them. The adults are white with black tips to their wings and yellow heads, and dive from twice as high as the kids. I've taken a few photos and will post them here soon to illustrate the difference. You might also see smaller, white birds diving spectacularly deep under water: these are Terns, probably Common Terns (some may be Artic Terns - it is very difficult to tell the difference in juveniles, for me anyway!)

  3. PS - the higer the tide, the closer to the shore they will come, and easier to identify!