Sadly, no show on the nightingale front.
I have now made two early morning visits to my Booker tetrad (SU89F) in search of nightingales for the British Trust for Ornithology survey. I walked through every possible bit of habitat, from scrub to mature beechwood. In the early morning it is wonderfully quiet, there is no noise from the municipal dump, the aerodrome or the shooting school. The M40 provides a constant hum, but it doesn’t deter the birds, I heard a thrush and saw linnets and goldfinches right next to the motorway.
The woods were alive with blackcaps. There is nothing more beautiful than a Chiltern beechwood on a May morning, the trees just coming into leaf – as Hardy says in Afterwards: ‘… the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings, delicate-filmed as new spun silk …’. It was certainly like that this morning.
The kite, whose nest I saw on my recce, is now occupying it though flew off noisily every time I passed it. I shall return in a week or two to see if there are any babies. And the footpath which I reported as blocked with oilseed rape after my recce has been cleared (though the farmer still needs to improve the surface).
So although I neither heard nor saw any nightingales, I had a memorable walk. And as I drove to my tetrad at 5.30am I had a great sighting of a barn owl at Lane End, an extra prize.