Nature Notes with Tony Drakeford: Singing in the rain
9:17am Tuesday 26th June 2012 in Nature Notes
It's 3.40am on a wet mid-June morning as I await my early wake-up call.
This should be first light but the relentless rain hammers down from the darkness with no hint of dawn.
Then promptly, at 3.50am, my expected call comes in, not with a phone call but from my local songthrush perched on a chimney pot.
Come rain or gale, he has begun his morning recital every day for the past four months well before dawn so he must perceive some glimmer of light on the horizon.
Rain means nothing to him for after all, it's just like water off a duck's back!
His beautiful song is a series of rich distinct phrases, each one consisting of from three to seven identical notes with phrases repeated at regular intervals but in random order.
After half an hour he flies to another lofty perch,one of several in his territory and continues singing throughout the day, finally performing evensong as dusk approaches. The local blackbird joins in at dawn but with a rather short half-hearted attempt.
Then, at 4.30am, my resident cheerful chaffinch, initially using the same chimney pot begins his territorial chanting with only a four second pause between deliveries. He also sings all day long usually from his main perch in a tall pine tree.
Despite inclement weather, birdsong has been especially rich this year but by the end of this month, the summer moult begins as nesting is over and territory less important so with powers of flight restricted, birds tend to keep quiet and skulk for some weeks to avoid being pounced on by predators.