It is early, cold and dark. The Sparrows are still in their roost at 7.30 am GMT. I say GMT because I have noticed that some of my followers are from across the Pond and I don’t want them to have any less accurate a post than anyone else! I know the Sparrows are in the roost because I just passed the hedge where the Old School Clan like to gather and sing! Oh yes and unihemispheric slow-wave sleep (USWS), with one eye open! (see previous very scientific post ha)
I am walking around the village this morning checking the roost sites and as I approach the sites identified by my enthusiastic village naturalists, I listen. I am sorry to say this site is not doing it for me. I am thinking one two birds maybe. Sounds to me like a cock Sparrow just letting the neighbours know that this is his patch and his nest is nearby.
I decide to walk on to the next site. A duck flies over. I scan quickly with the binoculars, the ones that I always carry, and its turns out to be a female Goosander, unexpected!! I must explain that the binoculars are a sort of hedged bet! I am sort of hoping that villagers seeing me out and about in the semi dark will think ‘are, there is a bird watcher with his binoculars’. Unfortunately I stop loiter about and move in random directions. So I am sure, that actually, what the villagers (staring from behind twitching curtains) are really thinking is ‘who is that weirdo with binoculars looking at the houses. Is he checking them out for burglary opportunities, houses empty or windows left open’? So now, not only am I listening to early bird calls but also listening for the sound of a siren and looking out for the distant blinking of a blue light!
Anyway us naturalists are not easily deterred and progress needs to be made. I walk on and this time a Cormorant flies overhead. Now these are not really birds we would expect to see flying about in the early morning in a rural village in England. We might expect Blackbird, Thrush, Robin maybe, but it is surprising what you see and hear if you look and listen. One day, years back, an Osprey flew over my garden, its wasn’t checking the pond out for fish you understand, it was a fair way up, off on migration, I guess. Then another year the Red Arrows flew over. You just never know!
None of our roost sites this morning seem to be behaving like roost sites at all. So, I begin to wonder, have they moved or have my willing helpers not quite got the hang of the characteristics of a House Sparrow roost site. The sound from a roost is really quite loud, easily discernible to a keen ear at 100 yards. Image a miniaturised male voice choir all singing different songs over and over again. You got it loud!
I return to my roost and whilst drinking a good old fashioned hot English cuppa, I make a vow. I will get up early tomorrow and record my roost site in full choral rendering in the hope that this recording thus broadcast over our local social media will sustain my helpers further in their efforts to help me identify all of the village sparrow roost sites.
The two males, one female sparrow are now returned to the three foot hedge. No sirens, no flashing blue lights, phew!! Have I told you about the hedge, I must tell you about it some time.