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The Nightingale blog

Monday, 16th April 2018

The Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) is a small passerine bird that is slightly larger than the Robin but more slender. Their colour is a rather plain brown, with a thin black/brown beak, a large dark eye and a coppery tail, which is often the only noticeable feature of the creeping adult.
They have a loud powerful song, and they are known for their beautiful vocal abilities which have a range of whistles, trills and gurgles. They can be heard singing throughout the day and their song is particularly noticeable at night, filling the evening air with their mesmerising sound. Hence this is why its name includes the word "night".
 
Nightingale
 
The Nightingale is one of a number of British migrant birds and usually arrives in April, departing during July/August - as they are insect eaters they have little choice but to leave our shores when the weather turns colder and return to warmer countries in search of insectivorous food.
 
You might naturally expect the Nightingale to nest in trees, but it builds its nest on, or just above, ground level. It forages mainly on the ground for food in thick tangled scrub and bushes and they particularly love ants and beetles.
 
Prosecto Insectivorous is a year-round soft food that's ideal for insect-eating birds; it is a good wholesome mix that is naturally nutritious, low in iron, and certainly adequate in terms of natural calcium. It can be fed from a bird table or a ground feeder which is ideal for the Nightingale to eat from.

Prosecto
 
Nightingales can consequently be a difficult bird to see. In recent years, they have declined by 90 percent over the last 50 years and are now a red status species.
 
Over the last century they could be found commonly around London and during the year 1819 a Nightingale was found on Hampstead Heath - John Keats celebrated its arrival in his famous poem, ‘Ode to a Nightingale’.

 

Ode to a Nightingale

 
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,—
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
 
O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
 
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs,
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
 
Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays;
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.
 
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
 
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
To thy high requiem become a sod.
 
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft-times hath
Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
 
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?

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