Nightingales are a symbol of Spring. They arrive back in this country in the second half of April and for a few short weeks their song can be heard long after dusk when other birds have fallen silent.
Yet, like too many of our songbirds, their numbers have fallen. According to the RSPB nightingale numbers have declined by 90% in the last 50 years. Keats’s “immortal bird” is in danger of disappearing.
That is why we are lucky in Essex to have a site where nightingales are thriving: the Essex Wildlife Trust centre at Fingringhoe on the Colne estuary.
When the Bird and Wildlife group went there earlier in April one of the group heard a nightingale that had literally just arrived from Africa. Nearly two weeks later when I went there on one of the Trust’s guided walks we heard, according to our guide’s estimate, about eighteen birds singing. At one point we listened to two birds trying to outdo one another in their effort to attract a mate. Their stereophonic sparring was unforgettable. You can listen to the nightingale here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK2_bcQcoD4
It was a fascinating experience wandering around the reserve after dusk, watching the light fade over the water and listening to the nightingales.
It’s probably too late this year to go to Fingringhoe to hear this special symbol of Spring but next year – go if you can.
Member of Bird and Wildlife Group