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Wild Sounds

The sounds of garden wildlife.
Birds are often heard but sometimes rarely seen as they are usually fairly timid and often well-camouflaged. It was a treat to catch this glimpse of the woodpecker who is often in the garden.

The Wildlife Trusts' Nature Challenge 2018
Random Acts of Wildness : Day 2

woodpecker red and black
Nature Blog : The woodpecker uses its strong beak to drum a territorial sound against wood.

Why listen to wild sounds?

Nowadays, people can feel detached from local wildlife and birds by work and other commitments that can distance us from the natural world. Many people no longer recognise the birds they were once familiar with seeing in the garden, parks and school fields and some people never become familiar with their sounds enough to identify which bird it is that’s singing – if they hear it at all; wild sounds from the birds (and other garden wildlife) is often not heard, literally, as we tune out to the natural sounds around us. Engaging with nature and wildlife invites greater appreciation for it and bird song, in particular, benefits humans too. 

Familiar wildlife sounds
There are many useful and interesting bird and wildlife identification apps and beautiful bird song recordings and recordings of favourite garden birds to help identify bird and animal sounds but it can be a little overwhelming to try and learn the sounds of so many wildlife varieties, the majority of whom are unlikely to be visiting the garden on a regular basis.

Familiarity comes from the habit of listening out for the wildlife. Our ears tune in to familiar sounds so one way to recognise a wildlife sound, and make it familiar to us, is to focus on it regularly. Listen out for it, try and spot which bird or wildlife animal is making the sound. Listen to sound recordings of that particular bird or mammal. The more often this is done the more familiar the sound will become and one day you will hear the bird, woodland mammal or field wildlife - and instantly know who it is. One sound at a time.

A little robin started appearing in the garden (one of several) - she was a new visitor. After a few weeks of regularly waiting and watching in the garden and listening out carefully for her, the robin’s voice seemed to become louder, as if to alert me to her presence. Of course, a few mealy worms went down a treat too! But now I instantly know when she is in the garden.

Take time to listen out for the wildlife and it might sing for you!

Not so familiar wildlife sounds
A few years ago, along the garden fence, an unfamiliar scratching sound disturbed the otherwise peaceful, quiet garden. I heard the sound several times as I stood there very quietly but couldn’t determine what was making it. I quietly peered over the fence but saw nothing unusual, no signs of any activity, and expected it to stop as my presence was likely to have interrupted it and frightened it away. But it didn’t – it carried on scratching. It sounded like claws scratching on wood but the only visible wood was the fence and there was nothing noticeable there. I looked all around and tried to pin-point the sound. It was coming from underground! It can be difficult to know where to start in identifying animal sounds but close observations and a little bit of luck will sometimes provide the clues; at a later date, badger latrines were discovered in a hidden patch of the garden – and slowly pieces of a jigsaw could be put together - it must have been the badgers making holes all along the fence but there had never been any sign of them.

It’s fun being a wildlife nature detective, even in a garden – and knowing a wildlife animal or bird is in the local area is the first step to spotting one!

The quieter sounds of nature
The gentle buzzings, murmerings and movement sounds of winged insects, small creatures, birds and even trees: a grasshopper in the grass, a bee on the lavender, the rustle of leaves in a quiet patch of the garden or swaying gently on a tree in a breeze, the splosh as a fish gulps at surface air in a wildlife pond or when a frog that leaps into the cool water, the sound of flapping wings as a bird regains its balance after gliding through a blue sky.

Such sounds might only momentarily be heard but they anchor the senses to the natural world - and can provide a memory bond forever. Wildlife sounds have been recorded in poetry and literature for thousands of years and singing birds feature in many paintings -  nowadays, bird recordings, such as these provided by The Wildlife Trusts, can be downloaded to mobile phones for a pleasant reminder that nature is calling...along with a fun bird-bingo sheet - another reason to get out there and explore the wild sounds!

For the #30dayswild post in 2016, Nature Challenge : Listen for Wild Sounds, click here

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