This is an ancient oak tree in the forest that’s been there for many centuries. It’s a good friend and counsellor, and I’ve been visiting it on and off for nearly four decades. The trunk measures three paces in diameter and the remains of a fallen bough stretches out for twelve paces to the side. Other fallen timbers lie around too, split along their length but still strong, like half finished struts and spars in an abandoned boat yard.
I heard another new nightingale in the forest last night, which brings the total there to nine different singers so far this year. Given that only around five thousand may make it across the channel each spring that’s an impressive amount for a smallish patch of woodland near the species’ northern limit.
The cuckoo and the nightingale in Southwick Forest at 9pm on 5 May
I’ve just been listening to two tawny owls doing high wobbly hooting, rhythmic and overlapping, one on G and the other a D below that. Never heard anything like it before. Beautiful.
A nightingale I unexpectedly heard (and could just about see) in Short Wood at first light this morning. Happy Dawn Chorus Day!
A new track created with Faradena Afifi. It started with a recording I made of two Tawny Owls in the forest, then we added music and I read excerpts from Gilbert White’s 18th Century writings “The Natural History of Selborne”
First nightingale of spring singing in Southwick Forest last night.
Twilight with a nightingale and cuckoo in Southwick Forest a couple of nights ago. Sometimes they finish singing in early June, but this year’s slow spring looks to have extended the season. I’d be happy if they never stop but it’s actually good news as it means the chicks have fledged.
I was visited by a hare and a badger in the time I spent making this recording. The original is 14 minutes long which is a good length when you are trying to capture pristine natural sounds. The difficulty isn’t always with the intrusion of manmade sounds though. It was a warm night and the insects were so loud close to the microphones that it wasn’t till about 9.45 pm that I could get a clear recording of what I actually wanted to hear!
May Day sunrise in a very still Southwick Wood this morning. Don’t forget to put up the volume to hear the birdsong too….
Some welcome sounds from Glapthorn Cow Pasture early this morning. No sign of a nightingale yet, though some may have already crossed the Channel and they could arrive here any time in the next week or so (fingers crossed!) The first clip features the lovely freewheeling sound of newly arrived Willow Warblers – a wise old man of the woods once told me that when you heard your first Willow Warbler then you really could say that spring was here. Then there’s a clip of a Song Thrush in full flow. It doesn’t quite have the tonal quality and variety of its cousin the nightingale but this is a lovely strong singer who has found the ideal spot in the tall, thin ash trees to enhance his voice, ably accompanied by Chiffchaff and Wood Pigeons.
A beautiful balletic courtship dance by a pair of swans between Oundle and Cotterstock this morning. I couldn’t resist putting some music with it when I got home, so if you want to hear it don’t forget to put the sound up a little.
A kingfisher among the twigs and branches this morning. A split second later it took off, circled twice showing the blue of its back then the orange of its belly as it banked, then whizzed of upstream at full speed. It looked like it wouldn’t land again till it got to the bridge a few hundred yards away.
Greater Spotted Woodpecker at work by the river between Oundle and Cotterstock this morning. I saw a Red Kite take a fish from the river just after videoing this. I looked it up when I got home because I didn’t quite believe what I was seeing, and they do feed on dead or dying fish. It was certainly a first for me!
There was a misty hush in the meadows near Cotterstock Lock this morning – I loved the gentle sound of the water flowing past this old pollarded willow. (make sure to turn the sound up)
A compilation of video clips made by the river in 2020 with music I wrote specially for it.