As, at last, a mild, if somewhat wet and windy, winter gives way to spring at Upper Dulwich Wood, the melancholy song of the Robin is accompanied by the raucous calls and song of other garden and woodland birds as they renew their territorial claims. During the working week I catch the first Overground train out of Crystal Palace to Docklands; I crest the hill walking past the Woods on my way. I can tell that the days are lengthening by the advent of the dawn chorus. The Robin was joined in song by several species including Blue and Great Tits, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Blackcap, Chaffinch and Greenfinch singing across the treetops to one another; quite an aural experience.

Trees breathe
Quiet in the wood.
Winds hush
Cradled in the branches.
Jays squall
Carping in the startled tree-tops.
Tits pipe
Keen in the secret, the secret thicket.
(Mavis Pilbeam)

In late February the local Great Spotted Woodpecker starts to drum, again to establish its territory. The male Great Spotted Woodpecker can be told from the female by its flash of red on the hind crown. The Wood’s Green Woodpecker also becomes vocal in early Spring - its yaffle call is both startling and somewhat demented! It digs for worms on garden lawns as well as searching for insects amongst the bark of the trees in the wood, which, for a bird its size, it does remarkably quietly.

The mild winter has been good for the Wren, again this year, with as many as five or six nesting territories in the Wood, each announced by the explosive tune from the little bird. I am always surprised by how powerful the song is:

When I heard that little bird at first
Methought her frame would surely burst
(W.H. Davies)

During a walk round the Woods in early April I watched as a pair of Magpie tried, unsuccessfully, to defend its nest from a raid by a Carrion Crow. A scavenger scavenged.