The Blackbird... 3rd time lucky

May 9, 2018



Blackbirds remind me of Spring evenings, and sitting outside listening to their beautiful songs at dusk.

Dad used to tell us that they have their own regional accents, too, and he knew a chap who would tell you where a blackbird was from just by listening to it.


I have been wanting to capture one singing for a long time, but they are quite flighty and getting close to them is difficult. I began to observe a particular bird that sings near my house here, always from the same telegraph wire, above a hedge up the road. 


I checked the forecast, and got up at 4am three days ago. The bird was already singing, from its usual perch, but I sneaked as close as I dared and left the microphone on a stand. The results were simply too quiet.



 Yesterday I tried 3.30am, and bugger it, the bird was already singing! Do they ever sleep? It was darker though, so I did get close enough, and I thought I had cracked it until a boat started up across the bay in Kirkwall and ruined my second attempt. Who is out on a boat at 3.30 am? There is just no peace and quiet around here! There's nothing I can do about boats, so I packed it in and tried to get back to sleep.


Day three. I got up at 3am, it was completely dark, and wearing black I sneaked sleepily up the road like a burglar and set up the mic in what I hoped was the right place. I left it running for over an hour. The bird appeared, and started singing at 3.20, but in the wrong place, about a hundred yards away. I was patient, kept my distance and waited. Twenty minutes before the end of the recording, it moved to exactly the right spot, there were no boats, and I captured a magnificent blackbird! I had never heard one in so much detail and was astonished at the intricacy and variety in its calls.  It's a really lovely recording and worth the exhaustion that followed! 

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