Tuesday, 17 June 2014


How many different sounds do we hear a day? Hundreds, certainly, possibly thousands if we are in a city, but how many do we take notice of?

Alarms - car, burglar, fire alarms - are designed to be extraordinary noises to command our attention and hopefully action. The sounds of humans or animals in distress or pain generally attract pretty immediate attention if they occur in our homes or places of work. Many other sounds we simply filter out and ignore.

I was walking in our town the other day, and I was vaguely aware of people talking, cars and buses driving past, the sound of the Pelican traffic crossing bleeping, doors opening and closing - all very normal sounds - when I heard just one  sound which stopped me dead in my tracks, my eyes shining with delight and frantically searching for the source of the sound......

What had I heard, to cause me such delight? The sounds of  swifts screaming as they flew overhead, gathering food for their youngsters. Swifts are migrant birds; they winter in Africa and make the long, long journey to the cooler Northern climes to breed and raise their young. For some reason, they love to nest and hunt in the town centre, and I rarely see them elsewhere in the town and certainly not in our small village close by. They can fly 500 miles a day in their relentless search for  food.

I could not see the fast moving bird which had called out, but I spent the rest of the day with a smile on my face at having heard such a welcome sound for the first time this year!