Though it may be August, and the sky (fleetingly) blue, these local starlings have already donned their winter plumage and started gathering together. Maybe a sign of a cold, hard winter? I don’t know, but as a winter lover I can live in hope.
Looking up at them, the words of Dire Straits came to mind:
And the birds up on the wires and the telegraph poles
They can always fly away from this rain and this cold
You can hear them singing out their telegraph code
All the way down the Telegraph Road
They can always fly away from this rain and this cold. Or they can stay, if they want, in their winter plumage, hustling me for chips on frosty grey days.
I’m behind with my Springwatch. So much so that it is now summer. I watched one of the episodes I recorded yesterday, and learned an amazing fact about the nightingale.
This bird, in an attempt to woo a female mate, chooses around 600 notes, and then combines them into about 250 phrases. From these it produces its song, and every time it sings, its song is different every single time.
Think about that: from the combination and variants open to them, every time these birds sing, they never repeat the same song. Each time they come up with something original.
The latest research seems to indicate that females select males on the quality of his song, because the nightingales that sing the best are the best providers of food for chicks. Ready to pull, they clear their throat and give it there all.