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The call of the nightingale


This week my friend Catie drove 100 miles to hear the call of a bird called a nightingale. When I read her post about it I was like, whaat? Why would you drive all that way, just. to. hear. a. bird.

When I next saw her, she told me all about the nightingale – how she walked in the pitch black with friends at 11pm to stand beneath the tree it was sitting it. She was so excited to play the recording she managed to get of it’s song. It sounded like a cross between a bird singing, a car alarm and a lazer. Kind of cool but, still, just a bird. We laughed together and I think I called her a bird geek, which wasn’t actually very kind.

The day after I saw Catie, I was walking down the road and suddenly heard a bird sing. And then I noticed a different song from a bird, there were so many different types of birds singing, and as I walked and listened I felt peaceful. I walked along enjoying all the different sounds that they were making, ‘Why don’t I usually notice this?’ I thought, ‘It’s beautiful’. I think the reason that I don’t usually hear them is because I rush, I’m busy, I’m often caught up in my head with worries, questions and thoughts of the next thing I need to get done.

Patrick Begg who is the National Trust’s Outdoors and Natural Resources Director summed it up brilliantly when he said this – ‘Sometimes a simple walk in woodlands, where you’re surrounded by the echoes of calling birds, and that satisfying crunch of fallen leaves and twigs underfoot, is the perfect remedy for reducing stress’.

So, why don’t you try it, even just for 5 mins, step outside, or take a walk to the park or the woods. Notice the sound of the wind, the birds or the sound of water. Taking the time to listen to ‘out there’ rather than the busyness of our minds can be a great way to improve our mood.

I know listening to the birds might seem like a bit of a silly thing to do and, as I mentioned I called Catie a bird geek, but I think she might be on to something. There are people around us, our friend and our family, who are enthusiastic about things that are different from us. I know people who love shells, planes, and tortoises, – and it all seems a bit odd sometimes. But what if they have something to teach us? What if the way they see the world could help us to see beauty, to feel calm and maybe to discover a new passion as well? Because, before long, I think I’ll be recording the birds too.


Photo by Richard Lee.

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