I took the camera out for a wander to try and get lots of pictures of WILDLIFE ekcetera. I was a bit glum at first as I did not really get anything much, it is very hard taking pictures of birds especially, as they keep moving around and flying off. So I spent a lot of time hanging around suspiciously in the woods.
It was a beautiful day though and it was nice sitting quietly in the sunshine by the river watching blue tits fluttering around and listening to woodpeckers. It is awful hard to identify little songbirds as they tend to be (a) quite small, and (b) very good at not being seen. So it is bird listening rather than bird watching, I am trying to learn what all the different birds’ songs and calls are.
One thing I learned from watching David Attenborough’s wizzo series The Life of Birds is that birdsong actually means something, and they are not just messing about and jamming. Generally a male bird sings for the same reason that you do when using a public lavatory where the door doesn’t lock properly: to say ‘Hey I am here and occupying this territory, keep out!’
Birds tend to stick to their patch of territory and they will know their neighbours. If one day they don’t hear a neighbour singing, it is a good sign that he has died or flown away, and the territory is ripe for takeover. So the song is also like the Soviets rolling hundreds of tanks through Red Square every year: it is saying ‘I am strong and powerful, do not mess around with me or you will regret it.’
At breeding time it also attracts females of course, and the louder and more varied and impressive your song, the more of a chick magnet you are. It means ‘I am so genetically well-endowed that I can waste precious resources sitting here warbling all day long’, in much the same way that a ridiculously expensive and oversized SUV asserts your status as a human being.
So it is all very interesting and the more you sit in the woods and listen the more different types of songs and calls you realise there are. It would be good if there was a Michel Thomas course on bird songs.
In the end though I got lots of great photos (coming soon!) and returned home in time for a snack before zooming out again to a meeting of the Finchley Guitar Trio (it is now the Archway Guitar Quartet as Matt’s housemate Chris has now joined us on mandolin). So much musical fun was had by all (MP3s coming soon once I’ve edited them to cut out the mistakes and laughing).
Then when I got home I made and ate delicious home made samosas!
It does not get any better than that really.
Photo by Jim Higham