Thursday, 21 February 2013

Listening to an Uckfield morning

I got the idea of really listening to my town as I walked to the station when I read Ian Mortimer's description of sounds in Medieval England ...

"It is very quiet.
Out on the open road, you can hear nothing but the wind in the trees, the streams trickling, occasional calls of voices, and birdsong"

6am I leave the house and hear the angry sounding pipping of a blackbird. Maybe the security light woke it.  Somewhere nearby is the sweet sound of a robin.  There is a swish as a car passes by and the occasional hum from the main road.

I pass through several robin territories as I walk through Manor Park
As I walk through the estate, I will pass through several robin territories. I hear a robin singing when I reach the top of the path that has brought me to Browns Lane. I hear another, then another as I turn into Downsview Crescent by Tesco Express. More sweet song as I pass by Woodland close, and then again at the little green near Tower View. There is more pipping from the blackbirds and a deeper, melodious song drifting behind it. An early blackbird? Maybe a thrush?

There is a pause in the birdsong as a dog walker appears. Greetings are exchanged, the dog pants slightly and wags its tail. Then past the big old lime tree at Lamach Close. Unlike the ones in Lime Tree Avenue, the growths around its base have not been trimmed back, and it has formed its own mini jungle. As I walk past two more robins come into focus one just after the other.  As I move into Southview Close the hum from the main road becomes more insistent.  Another robin as I walked past Streatfield House. There are definitely blackbirds singing now. Is it the brighter lights in the high street that has started them off? Their melodies follow me as I pass the shops at the top of the town.

The song tails off and is replaced by growling cars, stopping and starting at the lights. I hail another dogwalker but she can hardly hear me. As I approach the station a sudden burst of song. The blackbirds are singing loudly in this lighted, busy place.

6.25 am I am buying my ticket and hearing conversations. The birds will sing on without me.

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