Making the most of lockdown

There are limitations to what you can do when you are restricted to your own demesne, so it is good when the object of your attention comes to you. That is quite often the case if you are a birdwatcher, and this time of year is one of more interest than most as April and May are the months where our migrant visitors make their presence felt in skies, woods, hedgerows and even gardens throughout the UK. Given a southerly airflow over a day or two the birds will arrive and, given the absence of traffic noise pollution their calls are easier to detect amid the avian orchestra of more resident species. A little like the return of dark glasses, tee shorts and flip flops amongst the human population, the return of the familiar and not-so-familiar sounds in the countryside chorus heralds the return also of longer days, warmer sun and rapidly greening and yellowing fields.

You don’t have to travel far to hear the birds. Chiffchaffs (invariably one of the first arrivals) started calling from trees in Salisbury about 3 weeks ago and shortly afterwards, walking out near Newton Tony I saw my first Swallows and House Martins. These are usually preceded by Swifts, so with luck you will have seen some of these increasingly uncommon visitors swirling and shrieking around your rooftop if you are an urbanite. Out in the sticks I have heard the first Stone Curlew of the season on the Porton Down Estate, though the days of hearing Cuckoos seem to be in the past for many. Even amongst the resident birds there is also an increase in activity as competition for mates, for food and for territory comes to a head in gardens throughout suburbia and farmland alike. This time of year is a time of growing excitement for songbirds, for corvids and for waterfowl so life is not dull. Far from it!

Lockdown is, in theory, an inconvenient bore for some. It shouldn’t be that way, as nature has a habit of providing ready entertainment from a bedroom window or during an hour’s exercise. There are ways to make the best of the current very strange circumstances…so please forgive the brief personal ornithological indulgence…