If you’re subscribed to our weekly emails – and, indeed, if you’ve been up early enough – you’ll already know that the dawn chorus has returned. Our resident birds might not fall totally silent over winter, but they do give their singing voices a bit of a rest. Now, though, as the breeding season gets into swing, they’ve got a lot to talk about each morning as they compete for attention and to claim their territory. Of all the birds you’ll likely hear, it’s actually two of the more ubiquitous that have the loveliest songs in our opinion: the blackbird, whose warble can only be described as plummy; and the robin, who is rather sweeter but just as tuneful, and who, to be fair, never really stopped singing over winter but who now leads the chorus each morning with full enthusiasm.
Singing aside, spring may be when we say goodbye to our winter visitors (many geese and swans who are heading north to tell our Scandinavian neighbours that spring has arrived for them too), but it’s also when we start welcoming back those birds who are synonymous with summer in the UK. Redstarts, nightingales and chiffchaffs will all be here by April, but it’s the swallows, swifts and house martins that we’re particularly looking forward to. This more common forked-tail trio will always be evocative of a British summer. Fast and fleeting, they’re easier to tell apart by their habits than by their appearances: the house martin, the smallest and, it’s fair to say, fattest, are usually found in towns and villages where they build their nests under the eaves of houses; swifts are the plainest of the lot, have a piercing call and are always flying – you’ll never see them sat on telegraph wires; while swallows (who are prone to this) tend to swoop low along the ground and have the most distinctly forked tails – like the streamers on a kite.