Here in Shadoxhurst, it’s less ‘the hills are alive with the sound of music’ and more ‘the woodland is awash with the sound of wildlife’ and May offers a very special treat: the song of the nightingale.
Each spring, a few thousand nightingales fly to the UK from Africa and take up temporary residence at a handful of locations in the south of England. We are incredibly lucky that the area around Green Farm offers ideal conditions for these secretive creatures who love to hide away in dense woodland.
As other wildlife settles down for the night, this little brown bird’s trills and whistles ring out. Its song is impressive in both tone and volume and can be heard nightly for around six weeks from mid-April through to the end of May.
Have you heard a nightingale sing? If you have been to one of our special night-time events you may well have done. It is a privilege to share their space and listen to their call but sadly, the nightingale population is in decline; their famous song is disappearing from Britain’s landscape.
Over the last 50 years nightingale numbers have fallen by as much as 90%. Fewer than 6,000 pairs are thought to remain. This reduction is likely to be a consequence of adjustments to woodland management, climate change and the browsing habits of deer, amongst other factors.
Here in our green corner of Kent, we are working closely with our neighbours and Kent Wildlife Trust to ensure we continue to offer nightingales a warm welcome. Green Farm lies within a designated local wildlife site and we take very seriously our responsibility to improve the quality of the habitat and educate our human guests about our wild residents and visitors.
This year the coronavirus pandemic meant we were unable to invite you to Green Farm to listen to nightingales in the woodland as we might normally. However, we couldn’t keep this remarkable experience to ourselves, so we have made a short recording for you to enjoy.
Stunning, isn’t it? Imagine listening to that while sitting under the stars in the heart of the Kent countryside. Feel the warmth of the campfire and the soft blanket draped around your shoulders as the call of these remarkable birds surrounds you.