As a bloke, I have been told, just once or twice, that I don't listen. And that's a bit of a problem for a birdwatcher as many first records of species come by ear rather than eye.
It's a well known fact that as one ages one's hearing can become a bit dodgy - I said ONE'S HEARING CAN BECOME A BIT DODGY!!
The thin high-pitched tweets of goldcrests and treecreepers become more difficult to hear. I know of birders who have lost the ability to hear cuckoos too. And someone helping a research project by recording corn bunting songs was so hard of hearing that he had to turn on the tape-recorder when he saw the birds' beaks opening (resulting in a lot of useless recordings of birds recorded mid-song!).
An experience the summer before last made me think I was joining this group. I was out with my daughter and she asked me what that buzzing sound was - I said it was just traffic noise. A bit later she asked me again, and wondered whether it was the buzzing of an electric fence - I couldn't hear any buzzing! A little further on and she asked me whether I could hear a buzzing noise - I couldn't. And then she pointed to a grasshopper at my feet and asked whether I could hear that - I couldn't, even though I am told that it was really loud. Those frequencies seemed to have dropped out of my repertoire completely.
Since then I have been wondering what else I am not hearing. I can hear goldcrests - at least sometimes - maybe I am missing lots of them. How would I know?
And since then I haven't heard any grasshopper warblers - and their reeling song is very much like the buzz of a grasshopper or cricket. Those people who named them weren't daft! And I do remember being with some birders who all claimed to hear a 'gropper' when I wasn't at all sure. So is the lack of grasshopper warblers in my life due to a decline in my hearing or in their population?
Well, this weekend produced a partial answer. I heard grasshopper warbler well at Stanwick Lakes on Saturday - and it was quite distant when I first noticed it. And at another Northamptonshire birding spot, Summer Leys, I heard at least two grasshopper warblers on Sunday morning! Yippee! I can hear! It's something of a relief.
Of course, although I can hear it doesn't mean that I listen!
I havent heard any nightingales but i am hearing a lot greenfinches - not quite as melodious, but good to know they are in my back garden enjoying themselves.
I went for a walk to Cliffe Pools late this afternoon, along the Saxon Shore Way and heard my first nightingales this year, ALL SEVEN OF THEM! I just kept stopping and standing still to listen, it was a joy, quite magical and something I hope to hear for many springs to come.
I now have to use a simple "bat detector" to hear grasshoppers!
yes Mark as a rule hearing deteriorates with age fortunately when we are out in countryside Sweeps hearing still fantastic.Lucky you anyway with the Grasshopper Warblers.
I just had to find your first blog. I just love your enthusiasm! Couldn't help noticing that you went to see the little terns at Gt. Yarmouth last year. Another spectacle not to be missed. I live close so it's an annual pilgrimage.
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