I was sitting on the swing seat in the garden on another gloriously warm and sunny day. Suddenly my ears homed in on a tiny sound, like a distant blackbird singing its heart out on a May evening. Except it was coming from a box hedge 15 feet in front of me, and was the quiet sub-song of a blackbird singing to itself. I sometimes hear that sound on a sunny day in the depths of winter, usually coming from an evergreen tree or shrub. Apparently they are practising for the spring, but I’ve never heard it this early in the autumn.
It was a complete delight, with all the warbling elements tumbling out in a long stream. I don’t know how they get such a beautiful tone, but all the birds I’ve seen doing this have been singing with their beaks closed throughout. A virtuoso display with a tiny, tiny voice. It never ceases to amaze me how many new sounds I’m hearing for the first time, how much I’ve missed in the past. That’s one I’ll be listening out for again – and I won’t wait till the depths of winter next time!