Walking by a roadside holly bush one mild afternoon in November I became aware of a series of faint mellow warbling notes emanating from the depths of the bush. Robins sing throughout winter but this was no robin as the notes were more varied and muted, as if the mysterious unseen bird was quietly whispering sweet nothings to itself.

I continued listening trying to identify the tentative song until suddenly amid a flurry of wings a blackbird literally erupted out of the bush uttering his staccato alarm call and sped across the road into a pyracantha bush.

Blackbirds do not usually begin singing in earnest until late December at the earliest and the dawn chorus is months away but perhaps he was fooled into thinking on this mild day that he was on the cusp of spring so he had better begin practicing.

I fondly remember listening to the wonder of dawn choruses years ago but since the nineteen seventies many birds along with much wildlife have declined steeply and the choruses nowadays are a mere whisper of their former glory, certainly in my area at any rate.

Song and mistle thrushes normally begin singing in November, being among the first species to prepare for spring and territory consolidation but so far nothing.

In fact, I have not heard a song thrush for two years but hopefully they will make an appearance soon.