−−− BY LINDA JENKINSON −−−
Happy May to all Yorkshire Reporter readers. What a glorious month May is with our streets lined with tree blossom; butterflies emerging in large numbers; azure carpets of bluebells in our woodlands and a backdrop of sweet, melodic birdsong to help us relax.
May and June are the months when we have more species singing than at any other time. Our resident birds have been joined by spring migrants from as far away as southern Africa and their songs have now been added to the chorus we’ve been listening to during early spring. Every garden, woodland, wetland, moorland and coastline is a cacophony of sound and, for those trying to learn birdsong, it’s a difficult time to separate individual songs. The best approach is probably to just enjoy the wonderful sounds they are making.
If you really want to make 2022 the year you learn some birdsong then each of my classes will be focusing on songs and calls from May to the end of the breeding season. Take advantage of my special offer below and, not only will you learn some birdsong on your first class, I’ll also teach you how to teach yourself.
Of course, there is one bird song that everyone knows and that is the cuckoo which can now be heard singing in wetlands and on moorland. Listen out for the typical cuckoo sound of the male and see if you can hear the replying whistles and warbles from a female. It’s probably best to study to a recording of this before you go out so that you know what to listen for but please remember not to play bird songs and calls outdoors.
Another much loved bird that arrives back at its nest site from the first week in May is the swift. Watch the skies for a black, boomerang-shaped bird flying at great speed. You may even hear its high-pitched scream.
Regular readers will remember that I co-run Leeds Swifts and that I rehabilitate grounded swift chicks and adults at my house. Extreme weather conditions over the last couple of years have created a challenge for swifts and rehabbers alike and last year I had 54 swifts brought to me. Some are in a terrible state when they arrive at my house. They become grounded due to starvation, dehydration, injury or a combination of these issues, and sadly I am never able to save all of them. However, last year I nursed 42 swifts back to health and they flew off strongly. Let’s hope they had a successful migration and that those individual birds make it back to the UK this year. I’m hoping that the 2022 season will give us fewer temperature extremes to minimise the number of casualties I receive in the Swift Sanctuary this year. I’ll be posting updates and photos in future columns.
This is my twentieth year of teaching people about birds and birdsong so, to celebrate Start Birding’s big birthday, I’d like to offer all Yorkshire Reporter readers 50% off their first two hour group birdwatching class, including birdsong tuition, by contacting me at email@example.com and quoting SBYR20. There’s plenty of group events to choose from over the next two months while the birds are singing or, alternatively, book me for your very own one-to-one birdsong class. Just get in touch for more details.
Linda Jenkinson teaches people about birds in and around Leeds. For details of classes email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07778 768719. Visit www.startbirding.co.uk or Start Birding on Facebook and Twitter