Dawn Chorus in Lockdown

chorus in lockdown image.jpg


Dawn Chorus in Lockdown


An account of early morning birdsong.


To set the scene, we live in Beaumont Buildings which - although in the centre of Oxford, a stone's-throw from the Randolph - is a very quiet backwater full of trees, shrubs and flowers. At the back we benefit from our neighbours' gardens, many given over to trees and flowering shrubs including a line of three lime trees which dominate the skyline, a Cypress, an elder with a mass of flowers (which I use in more normal times to make wine) a damson and a huge Buddlia which actually manages to attract a few butterflies. Thus, standing at my fourth-floor bathroom window I was looking down on an ocean of many shades of green and a sea of white blossom.

The chorus began just after 5 am. Chorus? It was actually a series of solos begun by our blackbird, with its flute-like song, described as the Beethoven of birds. Perched on the roof ledge about a foot from my eyes, his tuneful trill was followed by solos from a coo-ing dove, a cheerful wren, a robin (whose song is too complicated to describe) and a woodpecker. These are songs I recognize.

Thanks to that omniscient "twitcher", Google , I believe I also heard a blue tit, great tit, and dunnock. Our colony of house sparrows, whose chattering sometimes makes me want to ring the Environment Health people, were strangely silent. Either that or I failed to recognize the unusual sound of a sparrow singing alone.

Our blackbird seemed to conduct the singing. After his own song he flew about as if instructing the others when to begin, sometimes perching on a television aerial to spy around before moving on. After the singing was over it was the blackbirds who first flew about freely as if to say that the show was over.

As soon as the chorus ended, the two pigeons in the damson tree opposite my window began fighting. Perhaps one had said, "Look mate (literally) it was my turn to sing today?".

My overall impression is that there are more birds around than usual. I wonder if anyone else feels this?


27 April 2020


Museum of Oxford


Jane Allingham

Alt text

Image: blackbird on black wooden fence at sunrise

Add your thoughts

Allowed tags: <p>, <a>, <em>, <strong>, <ul>, <ol>, <li>