It was ninety seconds of radio gold. A short biography of the cuckoo narrated by Sir David Attenborough with the song of these rarely seen but often heard symbols of spring returning.
And so began the BBC’s epic tweet of the day. This year long audio adventure, broadcast just before 6am each week day morning, is a wonderful way for us to immerse ourselves in the birds that define our soundscapes beyond the white noise of modern life. What a wonderful and very British idea: you feel that this sort of project could only happen on these shores.
Beyond the visual identity of nature birds are our most visible and audible symbol of nature. At this time of year their song fills the air with sweet notes of joy; the dawn chorus is ingrained in the minds of millions as a special time that connects us to the pulse of the seasons. Before the nation wakes birdsong is often the only sound creating an atmosphere and soundtrack that never fails to amaze – echoing through the soundwaves, its perfect pitch massaging our ears.
This was brought home to me this morning as I walked in the glare of the bright morning sunshine. Two male blackbirds were engaged in an audio duel. Their tunes became more elaborate and competitive trying to out gun each other with their range of high and low notes. It stopped me in my tracks trying to identify where they were perched; feeling that sense of wonder at their power and beauty.
Even if we’re not totally aware of birdsong as we go about our daily routine, its there in the background shaping the sounds that we take in. This new sound epic on BBC Radio 4 is a wonderful way to connect with birdsong and remind ourselves of how much natural sounds mean to us.