Where to go to hear a nightingale sing

The first cuckoos are audible, skylarks are singing their hearts out, the dawn chorus is in full, joyous effect and more bitterns are booming than in decades. But the real highlight of the birdsong calendar is only now beginning in earnest: nightingale season. Nightingales have been winging their way from sub-Saharan Africa across Spain and France and into the wilder fringes of the southern part of England, where they are beginning their attempts to seduce each other by means of song. And it’s this seductive sound that has given this tiny bird such a huge place in our culture.  There are two guaranteed reference points for any discussion about nightingales.

England in infra-red: the beauty of the country at night

John Lewis-Stempel is nearly as prolific as the natural world about which he writes so well. His voice is distinctive – that of a traditional agriculturist of lyrical articulacy, an observant ecologist who finds mythopoeic magic in everyday animals, who honours his Herefordshire origins but addresses all England. Cattle in a frosty field are transfigured into witnesses of the Nativity As with his monographs on meadows and ponds, Nightwalking looks at under-appreciated aspects of the rural scene – this time, the most enigmatic of all. Like Robert Frost, poets often aspire to be ‘acquainted with the night’, and many are cited here. But even lifelong country dwellers scarcely know the