Willow warbling

A simple image search on Google reveals any number of photos of the diminutive willow warbler

But we only caught a brief glance of one little bird through our ageing binoculars before it flew off to another more distant tree. Meanwhile, our walk along the marsh dyke beside the River Ken was like entering an echo chamber of warbles. Every quaking aspen and willow tree seemed to have its own occupier, chirping out a long sequence of bright, single tweets followed by a kind of chorus, a trill that dropped down the scale.

So we listened on a couple of different apps to bird song and finally the song, colouration, size and habitat matched up: willow warbler, for sure. There were a couple other birds having a go on the sound waves, but by far the most predominant was the warbler. When we delved deeper into Wikipedia, for example, we discovered that for its size, this little bird migrates the farthest: from northern Europe to sub-Saharan Africa for the winter months. No wonder then that the successful travellers were filling the air with their delight at returning!

A couple days ago I was reminiscing about a song written for me, a song that entwines itself in my emotional centre every time we look along the field up on our smallholding in Sparty Lea. No doubt I’ll hum it to myself when we’re back this week, just gently delighted to be in the place we’ve called home for so long. Unlike the birds, I shall not inflict it on the neighbours!

But I would love to live long enough to hear those willow whips in the boggy bit at the bottom of the field alive with bird song, perhaps even a warble or two. That would be another anticipatory joy, but meanwhile we shall simply revel in the song that’s all around us.

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