Silence, but not silence

I’ve been able to sit in the garden quite a lot in the last few days, sometimes working, but always with binoculars at hand.

At other times, I would hear planes overhead, cars on the road, school children on their ways to and from school, and at break-times in the not-too-distant school playgrounds. There would be an ice-cream van jingling to coincide with the retreat from school and sometimes a van looking for ‘any-old-iron’ with a loudspeaker to advertise its presence.

Those sounds are mostly gone. Yes, an occasional car but not the background hum there used to be, and the school children have gone to be replaced by the occasional sound of children playing in nearby gardens, but they seem quite quiet and not very noisy children.

I have to say – I quite like the change.

And it does allow the bird song to come through louder and clearer than usual. Aren’t there a lot of pigeons and doves in the world? There are in mine. There is a pair of Stock Doves nearby and the male was singing this morning – nice! Yesterday I gave a sharp glance to a Woodpigeon that was being particularly noisy.

I’m connecting with nature in a more local way than usual this year – it’s fun. I don’t mind that at all. I wonder whether the pair of Long-tailed Tits are nesting on my patch or just very close and I will find out in the days ahead, no doubt. The Blackcap that sang briefly on Tuesday morning two weeks ago hasn’t been seen or heard since – is he now singing in Bonn, Berlin or further east? Are those Starlings carrying nesting material or food into that nest hole – I’ll see. When will the first Orange Tip be seen – the Jack by the Hedge is growing well for them. I would expect to see my first Beefly around now – I’m looking out for them. And listening too.

There is silence, but not silence.

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8 Replies to “Silence, but not silence”

  1. As I said in a comment yesterday we are very, very lucky where we live, our garden and small holding is usually full of wildlife. Currently our bird feeders are still attracting plenty of Tits although the Long Tailed and Marsh seemed to have now stopped visiting. We also have regular Chaffinches, Siskins, Nuthatches and woodpeckers. The stream in the garden, a pain when it rains and becomes a torrent, but currently it hosts a pair of Grey Wagtails, which hopefully will nest. Ah just seen a Marsh Tit, the trees at the end of "our field" have a crow nest and there are some 30 nest boxes. waiting for the Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts to return.
    This morning as I walked our collie over the other side of the river high over the trees were about 6 pairs of displaying and soaring Buzzards, a pair of displaying Red Kites and a change over at one of the Raven nests. Most exciting of all after a few weeks of few sightings there were two pairs of Goshawks chasing each other across the sky displaying, I suspect our usual adults are trying to move their nearest neighbours. On return home there were Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell in the garden and just for you Mark my first Bee Fly of the year.
    Stay safe all of you.

  2. When it really is quiet, it's great. I don't think we acknowledge how terrible it is usually - in self-defense no doubt. Shifting baselines.
    Can you imagine how a Wordsworth, John Clare (of Northamptonshire of course) or someone of Shakespeare's era transported to the 20th/21st century would experience it? Beyond hideous.
    Hush the noise you men of strife and hear the angels sing!

  3. I saw a beefly also 2 days ago. Our neighbour, just back from Spain, decided to mow a Celandine covered lawn and then have a bonfire of rubbish (some could have been recycled) so we couldn't go in our garden for about 3 hours. Hmmm.
    What has happened to your serial disliker?

  4. "Aren’t there a lot of pigeons and doves in the world?"
    Yes, but their singing and display flights have been much less frequent this quarter compared to Jan-Mar 2019. Stock Dove song 95% down; Collared Dove song 75% down and Woodie display flights 50% down. Woodie singing output also seems much less in our local urban song transect (wkly avs not done yet). Is any of this significant -- probably not -- but who knows when these types of easy (but unsexy) measurements are not occurring countrywide?

    Paul, I wouldn't mind a small slice of your locql land/soundscape although I too am very lucky to live where I do. Marsh Tits coming into peak song this week or perhaps next week. Coal Tits exuberant in their song among the Scots Pines on the common. Confused Great Tits every now and again sing against them. That's the great thing about bird song -- lots of different questions on offer for free.

    1. sounds like a good opportunity for some more research into the effect of human noise on animals

    2. Yes, isn't it wonderful for those of us in the retired, financially secure, spacious property owning classes living close to wild spaces. Meanwhile the nation's children are being denied access to the countryside if they have to be driven there, in case the virus jumps from one tin box to another and, just to be sure, we have a police force ready to stop and fine anyone who thinks this might be a little OTT. The New Forest, along with other national parks and many nature reserves will remain empty while we impose psychological and physical distress, for an indefinite length of time, on a generation probably not even at risk from the virus.


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