At this time of year you can find people behaving a little oddly at RSPB Pulborough Brooks nature reserve; peering into bushes for hours on end in search of a little brown bird…
But this isn’t just any little brown bird, they’ll be looking for a nightingale – a bird that’s renowned for skulking almost as much as it is revered for its incredible song.
The nightingale’s song has been celebrated for thousands of years, giving rise to legends, fairy tales, music and poetry, but sadly, fewer and fewer people are able to experience this wonder of nature.
Peter Hughes, RSPB warden, said “With such steep declines in the population of nightingales over the past 40 years, it is great that Pulborough Brooks has become a stronghold for this threatened species.
"We work hard to get the habitat right for them, coppicing woodland and creating scrub. All the scruffy bits, the dense patches of bramble and blackthorn thickets, are actually very carefully cultivated!”
Anna Allum, RSPB Visitor Officer, said “Our first nightingale was heard on 11 April this year, but we have at least 6 males at the reserve now. The singing is largely a boy thing – they’re showing off and trying to attract a mate, and the competition between rival males means that we’re in for a real treat!”
Anna added “Whilst nightingales will sing during the daytime, there is something magical about hearing them as the daylight fades, and we’d love to share this experience with everyone.”
From Friday 27 April until Sunday 29 April, the nature reserve is hosting its annual Nightingale Festival. On these evenings, between 6.30 and 9.30 pm, reserve staff and volunteers will be stationed around the nature trail at the nightingale hotspots, ready to showcase this remarkable evening chorus.