Is that a blackbird or a bullfinch, a chaffinch or a chiffchaff?

We’re fond of our garden birds.  Little by little, we’re getting to identify them.  But their songs and calls?  Not so much.

On Saturday though, we had an opportunity.  Just along from here at Old Sleningford Farm, Linda Jenkinson whom we first met some five years ago on her bird watching course at Nosterfield, was exploring Bird Song.  We  knew we had to sign up.

A morning in the classroom.  We learnt about blackbirds:

……and chaffinches…..

….and bullfinches (just think ‘rusty gate’ apparently….)

And chiffchaffs: think ‘chiffchiff’ rather than ‘chiffchaff’

and coal tits, and all the other kinds of garden tit.

We tackled about sixteen kinds of bird and their songs, listened, looked, did quizzes, and finished the morning feeling fairly sorted.

Then we had lunch.  Home made frittata and bread, freshly gathered salad leaves, locally pressed apple juice, deliciously damp cake – that’s the sort of nourishment you get when you come to Old Sleningford Farm.

And afterwards it was The Great Outdoors.  Well, I’m sorry birds, but you ought to get organised, form an orderly queue and sing, one by one.  We wandered through woodland, along the river, explored the Forest Garden.  And as we sauntered, ears cocked at the ready, willow warblers; marsh warblers; blackcaps; kingfishers all cacophonously introduced themselves, quite drowning out our carefully revised memories of bullfinch, chaffinch and the like.  It was wonderful. We learnt, we listened, we enjoyed simply being in this peaceful place, shared only with the birds and other unseen wildlife.  Thank you Linda.  So glad to Start Birding with you!

Linda helps us get close and personal to the birds we’ve been learning about.


34 thoughts on “Is that a blackbird or a bullfinch, a chaffinch or a chiffchaff?”

  1. I’m envious! I can recognise some birdsong but find it almost impossible to retain most songs and calls. I content myself with just listening and enjoying.

    (‘May’ post still not started but hopefully I’ll get there! Hope Malcolm continues to recover well. )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Get writing! I’m enjoying my birdsong homework, and also the fact that we have birds we haven’t so far seen, but which we now know must be there …. somewhere. Thank you. Malcolm is slowly but surely convalescing.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, sometimes we’re walking along the promenade and come across a group of people staring up intently at the cliff and we can’t see a thing, but creep by hoping we don’t disturb whatever bird they are looking at.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Bird song can be so beautiful, although sadly I think it’s often something people don’t hear above the noise of traffic. As I type I can hear at least 5 or 6 different birds tweeting away in the heart of Ipswich. Since moving here I have been amazed at the bird song which has been far more noticeable than when I lived on the outskirts of Norwich. I think it is a combination of living near the Old Cemetery where there’s plenty of established trees and light touch landscape maintenance, and the effect of the tall Victorian housing that seems to amplify sound. Not great when it’s a whiny hedge trimmer, but a bonus for the frequent and diverse bird song.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cemeteries are great sources of life, aren’t they. And some friends of ours who have a Victorian house with a long lightly-maintained garden have the best urban birdsong I know.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, sometimes I think that the countryside, if heavily farmed with grain and beet with few hedges, is perhaps not quite as welcoming as a diverse urban garden.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. It is confusing that spring can be filled with both hope and hardship. Here in SA spring is a fairly rapid transition between winter and summer. When I lived in the UK and pining for some sunshine and warmth I was always staggered by what a prolonged and usually disappointing and gloomy time spring was … Hoping you get more cheerful weather soon.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This was really a wonderful opportunity to learn! I am clueless about bird song–I admit it. I do recognize the kingfisher, since we have a bunch here, and the croak of the blue herons but I don’t know anything else. I wonder if you’ll be able to remember all of this? Do you think so?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So far, so consciencious. It’s much nicer than learning theorems at school! But I’m sooooo envious of your kingfisher opportunities. I’ve only ever seen one in real life. So quick and elusive!


  4. Linda is excellent – we booked a bird spotting class with her a few years ago and I still remember (some) of the things she taught us.
    We’ve enjoyed hearing the cuckoo calling whilst on holiday up in Scotland. Can’t remember the last time I heard one in Yorkshire. See you soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That must be a wonderful skill to have, especially as you can often hear the birds before you see them, if you see them at all. I am always amazed by the unusual (to my ears) sound of the birds in Mississippi. They have a kind of lizard too that sings like a bird in the early evening.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. what a beautiful collection of photos and songs of your feathered friends. thank you so much – it’s my great joy to listen to them early mornings when I wake up – plenty of choice where I live!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. How wonderful, I would love to do something like this, we are always wandering which bird it is that is serenading us. We heard a lapwing the other day which had us rushing for the bird song audios. What a strange noise that makes! It is like a robotic call. Very odd.

    Liked by 1 person

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