Country diary: tuned in for the Highlands summer soundtrack

Country diary: tuned in for the Highlands summer soundtrack

Abernethy, Strathspey: Resident birdsong mingles now with the songs of the summer visitors

In mid-April, I noticed shifts in sound that aligned with changes in colour. Soon I was in surround sound. Thrush song began earlier each day, at times that, two months before, would have been the middle of the night. Greater spotted woodpeckers pecked and drummed, wrens scolded me from junipers. One day, just once, I heard the falling cadence of a willow warbler, gone before I quite registered what I’d heard. The next day, a couple more, then more still.

When the bird cherries blossomed, they were encompassed with the thick drone of bees. Now the bees range more widely, buzzing low among the vetches and trefoils, lingering in the red and white clover that abounds. The breeze’s timbre has changed as it shivers through birch leaves. Slowly, cuckoo song dotted itself around the pinewoods, and for weeks they were more heard than seen. Then a moment arrived when three or four of them were restless presences on the electricity wires outside the house.

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