"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626


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Monday, 16 January 2012

Larks & Robins, and other early Birds

I am, without a shadow of a doubt a lark. I am awake and chirpy at dawn or much earlier. At the beginning of January I was up early, about 4.00 and looking out of the kitchen window saw what I thought was a shooting star zipping across sky. (I now know this was part of the Quadrantid meteor shower).. It was a wonderful sight and I opened the door to see if there were any more. No more shooting stars but there was some very loud singing from the nearby tall hedge.

Loud Night Singing

Since then I have been much more aware of a night singing bird (or birds), and it seems to be robins. Which does make sense because there are many robins here. Two patrol the garden every day (which I now presume are a pair, see below) and are the first to the scraps and seeds we put out in the morning.  I don’t know much about birds really so, to me, this was very interesting.

From Ask an Expert on the RSPB site

Robins are one of the few birds that hold a territory throughout the winter so continue to sing when the majority of other birds have stopped.

Robins are often one of the first birds to start singing in the morning and the last to finish in the evening so are used to being active in low light conditions. In places where there are street lamps or other artificial light sources, robins can be triggered to start singing because it does not get completely dark. Other disturbances, like a loud noise or movement, can also start birds singing in the night.
Katherine Stevenson RSPB.

and from the delightful site Garden Birds.co.uk

….they can usually be heard singing their melodious warbling song from strategic perches, often quite high up; it sounds like "twiddle-oo, twiddle-eedee, twiddle-oo twiddle". In the winter, it can sound wistful, some say mournful, but around Christmastime the song becomes stronger and more passionate.

Robins, both males and females, hold their own separate feeding territories in the winter, which they defend vigorously. By around Christmas, many will have paired up. Initially, they do not spend much time together, merely tolerate one another, but will remain together until the following autumn moult.

I also learnt this, something I had never really noticed!

“Robins are rarely seen or heard during midsummer (July-August) when they are moulting and become rather retiring.”

I read that some people find the nocturnal serenade annoying… but I think it  is very beautiful. There is a black bird singing outside as I type. Even through the closed window I can hear it. It’s quite lovely.

In the morning now it is getting light at about 7.30 and there are a couple of blackbirds and robins waiting hopefully by the hedge. We watch them along with a variety of other birds who come to the feeders. We are seeing more and more now and they seem to arrive at different times of the day. The blackbirds and robins are the first, the little longtailed tits visit in gangs later in the day as do the starlings.

Bird list yesterday: Chaffinches, Robins, Great tits, Longtailed tits, lots of Blackbirds who all squabble, a Wren, a beautiful pair of Wagtails who come every day, 2 Ringdoves, Sparrows, Blue tits, Starlings, a Magpie.

I made a quick sketch on a torn out bit of paper this morning in between bee drawing.  The robin was sitting a stick outside my window. I intend to get to grips with painting birds later this year.

rob  bg

Go to Brett Westwoods page on the BBC where you can hear its pretty song with lots of others and don’t forget the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. Watch for one hour on 28 or 29 January 2012 and send in your sightings!


Jarnie Godwin said...

Lucky you for seeing something of the meteor shower. I too am an early riser but the sky was too cloudy for me to see the meteor shower.Your robin sketch is so cute. We have made sure there is plenty of food out for the feathered friends. :)

Jane Adams said...

Robins are lovely little birds. We have one that took food from our hands last summer, and now comes to a feeder attached to our kitchen window. Sometimes he sits there and just looks at us through the window. Do a Google search for "Robins forced to sing at night to beat traffic noise" interesting article about how some birds are being forced to sing at night to be heard in urban areas! Jane

sharp green pencil said...

Hi there Sketchbook S and Jane: Thanks very much for comments. I was amazed to see the meteor shower..it was just a lucky glance out of the window.
I am so delighted to have the robins, they are the boldest and I would love to have one brave enough to feed from my hand. I think you have an affinity with birds Jane!
I saw the article about the street lights when I was trying to find out which bird was singing...but we are fairly dark here? I wonder if there are old records pre streetlights?