Gökotta

I’m writing this first blog of the day at 5am after having enjoyed 45 minutes of Gökotta.

I didn’t set the alarm to wake up at 4am, I hardly ever set an alarm as waking up is not a problem, but going to bed soon after 9pm these days often results in me being wide awake fairly early. With the windows open because of the heat of yesterday I could hear Blackbirds singing outside, several of them, and the level of light coming through the curtains told me it must be quite early.

So at 415am I was sitting at the end of the garden bathing in bird song and looking at grey clouds move across the sky. I’d already watered the vegetables to ensure that they were succulent enough for the slugs and snails to enjoy.

Actually, the slugs aren’t too bad, and I think that the fact that there are three broods of Blackbirds being fed partially from the pickings in my modest garden must have something to do with that. But slug-fed Blackbirds were the main choristers in the dawn chorus as they have been since March. I cannot tire of Blackbird song, it’s too beautiful to ignore however often one has heard it through one’s life, through this Spring or even through this 45 minutes of sitting and listening.

I was listening for a Robin, as they are pretty low-profile at the moment in my garden but there wasn’t a song from one. But there was a Blackcap singing off and on,and a couple of snatches of Wren and a lot of Goldfinch twittering. This is the time to hear distant Pheasants from my garden, and I did.

If you want the rest of the birdlist up until 5am today it was: Woodpigeon, Great Tit, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow and Black-headed Gull.

I was sitting in a shelted place and it was warm enough to sit in shirtsleeves perfectly comfortably. The dark grey clouds were worth watching as I listened for song. I’m much more aware of the wind direction these days although I think that, as a birder, I’m always well aware of whether the wind is coming from Europe or the Americas. It’s a very southerly wind at the moment, just nudged west of south but not by very much. The forecast is for it to get stronger and be quite a blow by 9am.

I watched the clouds go by – as they do. They were already going by quite quickly at 430am, they weren’t dawdling clouds, they were clouds on a mission, and maybe because they were leaden grey clouds, they were on a dark mission.

Aren’t clouds amazing? The world would be a poorer place without clouds. I’ve seen quite a lot of bright blue skies this Spring and they certainly have their place, but give me a blue sky with 40% white fluffy-looking cumulus clouds any day in preference – the clouds make it a lot easier to spot high circling raptors for a start, but they are also just fascinating.

This morning’s clouds were grey, light grey and dark grey, and covered c90% of the sky. I was looking at the underside of the cloud formation and it was like looking at the underside of an enormous moving entity – like the opening scenes in some Star Wars films. What did the top of the clouds look like? How thick were they and how high did they reach? I couldn’t tell from my viewpoint. I’d imagined looking at clouds from both sides now but I really don’t know clouds at all, so Joni Mitchell would be happy.

It’s only 530am, not even time to make the tea. Time to get on with some real work.

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7 Replies to “Gökotta”

  1. Here, on a low hilltop, we don't have lots of garden birds, or much shelter to sit out in, but we do have big skies. Yes, the clouds are fascinating and distracting, though sometimes awe inspiring and a cue to batten down the hatches. I occasionally leave my phone by the window, with its camera set to Time Lapse, just to relive the spectacle. Of late, in the early morning and the late evening, there's been a bank of cloud sat over the county like a snug duvet. This can mean that the only time we see the sun during the day is for an hour or so at first and last light. Our lounge window faces west, so early morning at this time of year, I can look out across the field opposite and marvel at the multitude of golden-headed Dandelions, set like jewels in the lush green grass of a pasture. Come evening and the setting sun, the flowers are long closed and invisible but, almost magically, in their place are countless Dandelion clocks, backlit and glowing in the fading light. The spell is only broken by pair of Oystercatchers, piping their annoyance at a passing gull, and another day of cloud watching comes to an end.

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  2. I was out again this morning to turn off and stop up the moth trap at 04:40 in T shirt and trousers. Quite a breeze here in Wales but not raining like yesterday although it had rained so fresh and quite warm. Three main constituents singing, Blackbird, Blackcap ( still singing now as I type) and Song Thrush with some Wren and amore distant Garden Warbler. Isn't bird song marvellous!
    Windier now and there is some traffic noise too to accompany the Blackcap.
    Oh and the Moth trap looked good too with 3 Elephant hawk moths on the lamp housing.

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    1. Paul - I'm wondering whether to get into moths - maybe next year. But I'm afraid I might get a bit obsessive over them if I did.

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      1. We just run the trap when conditions are good temperature wise and being retired helps. Before retirement I used to just run the trap in Yorkshire most Friday and Saturday nights and we had one here for when I visited.
        When you start a big catch can be a bit daunting to sort and in towns some neighbours are not keen on the big MV bulb so an actinic trap may be the thing to go for. Like all things natural history it can be quite obsessive but fun and it is amazing just what you never thought existed in your local area before you started.

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  3. We started moth trapping around July of last year primarily because the moths were next in line to add to the database. Two traps are run from different locations and habitats once a week, starting in April through until the weather breaks, the moths are recorded and photographed or videoed with a macro lens. We have still to do the pheromones trap.
    Our list does need to be updated, but at the last count we have 150 species confirmed, some recorded as images, others listed by id, we’ve missed quite a few escapees through the volume caught within the trap and me flapping about with cameras.
    Every trap completed we continually add to our species list, there are a few ‘A’ listers, and it’s a lovely experience to be outside with the trap listening and viewing nightjar, wondering if these birds have knocked-off anything special.
    If you have high blood pressure or suffer from anxiety attacks, then a moth trap is the remedy.

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  4. just looked this up and love it: Gökotta is an untranslatable Swedish word, which essentially means “to rise at dawn in order to go out and listen to the birds sing”. I love untranslatable words........

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