Dawn in early May in distant Balham would never have been much different from any city suburb at nay time of the year. A revving engine, a bin upturned, the odd congested sparrow but mainly a general dull hum.
But here in rural North Yorks dawn in the cool, still air of May is an auditory spectacle. We are lucky to have a bedroom that collects sounds from front - tall trees and grass verges – and back hedges, bushes and lawns – and from 4 to 5 in the morning the Dawn Chorus begins. Invariably the chorus seems to start with a blackbird or two singing out their territorial song; this will most likely be followed by a gang of hedge-sparrows and the odd discordant rook or pigeon. Occasionally I may be able to decipher a tit, finch or wren amongst the throng and as the summer rolls out the swifts rise earlier and wheel the skies screeching wildly. At its crescendo this symphony must consist of 40 or 50 musical maestros in concert.
If I’ve had sufficient sleep I’ll be serenaded for several minutes before getting up and enjoy the sounds and sights of ‘our’ birds By the time I reach my workroom at the back of the house I’ll be lucky to hear a thrush singing beautifully on a high tree or in our ‘secret garden’ cracking open a snail shell. Just about the only bird that doesn’t rise for the dawn chorus is....the swallow. The swallow tends to remain a’bed in the early morning though I often hear ours chattering in the their nests until ready for their mid-morning aerobatics.
So....would I swap one of the natural musical wonders of nature at 5o/c in North Yorks for 5o/c in London? As they say round these parts, ‘Would I ‘eck!?’