The beautiful dawn choruses that I experienced as a boy in the South London suburbs in the 1940s and 1950s could easily be heard above the rumble of distant traffic and factory hooters. It was a pleasure to listen to, and try to identify, the various songs from a number of different species until they became almost indistinguishable as more and more joined in. What a glorious way to start the day!
I live in Eastbourne now in an area that was once farmland so I suppose that redevelopment did not help the birds plight. With spring nearly here, today at about 6am I awoke to a lone blackbird singing his heart out but there was no reply from another one nearby. Outside my bedroom window a robin came close with a brilliant call to welcome the day. No house sparrows or starlings any more. In today’s urban world the chorus has gradually diminished to the extent that you are lucky to hear a duet or trio. Even a summer walk on the Downs has less larks ascending.
Nature suffers in silence literally. Some of the more predatory bird species such as crows, magpies, jackdaws have thrived by destroying nests and feasting on eggs. Some would say that cats are to blame as well but in all the 50 years that our family has had them as pets you could count on the fingers of one hand the number of casualties brought in through the cat flap and deposited on the kitchen floor.
Increased demand on our countryside for housing, roads, shopping centres and industrial estates, the severe cropping of hedges and the netting of small migratory birds for the dinner table abroad are all thing that have taken their toll. It is sad that our children and grandchildren will not experience for real the magnificence of the sound of nature of yesteryear waking from its slumbers.