Song Thrush (above)
Although they will have been singing now for a few months, that does not diminish the beauty of the song of the Mavis. Along with the song of the Blackbird it forms the core (or at least the flute in the woodwind section) of many a dawn chorus throughout the land. Song Thrushes prefer to sing in the evening and early morning, and this may be one contributing factor to why many strictly diurnal birdwatchers claim they never encounter them any more. The song is rich and varied, and characterised by each short phrase being repeated (typically) two to four times.
Few birds require such a specific journey to see as the Ptarmigan. Mountain breeders like Snow Bunting and Dotterel can be encountered at the coast or in ploughed fields in the winter or on passage; not so Ptarmigan, which spend their lives in high (by UK standards) mountains, in Scotland. And the best way to see them is to join them on their mountains, in among the rocks above the line of heather growth, where they appear to pick a living out of thin mountain air.
The breeding population of the Curlew is on a downward curve not dissimilar to the shape of the largest wader’s outsized bill. They are still moderately common coastal birds, but have declined greatly on their (generally) moorland nesting grounds. This is a tragedy, not least because the evocative, heartbreakingly sad, bubbling song is one of the great British bird sounds, rivalling any song bird for its magnificence.
In contrast to the Curlew, the breeding population of the Avocet in on an upward curve, not dissimilar to the shape of its jet black, needle-thin bill. This only equates to some 1,500 pairs, but this is 1,500 more than there were 80 years ago. Rudely maligned by some birdwatchers
for the nesting adults’ aggressive nature (noisily and persistently chasing other birds away from their eggs and young), they are really spectacularly exotic, elegant and beautiful birds.
Unlike Avocets, which, once adult, are always black and white (or rather white and black), Pied Flycatchers are only ‘pied’ in this way (ie black and white) as adult males and during the spring and summer. Autumn birds are browner, so spring is the time to appreciate them at their best. They will be working their way back from the wintering grounds to the western woods (and similar sites) this month. You could be there to greet them, or you may pick one or two up on passage. Either way, these small flycatchers are a great sight (and their simple song is lovely, too).