Your eyes do not deceive you - nor your ears! Today I am going to talk about the sounds of birds AND butterflies.

It comes as I (hopefully) recover from a long bout of labyrinthitis, which has laid me low for over a month now. For much of that, I have had very little sense of balance, and have struggled to focus my eyes (hence no recent blogs, and a short 'ease back in' one today).

As you can imagine, not being able to do any gardening, and not being even able to look at my garden wildlife, has been challenging!

So I offer up my immense thanks to Mother Nature for birdsong. To sit out in the garden on a sunny day, eyes closed, gently nodding off, and just let the burgeoning wave of birdsong wash over me has been the best recuperation I could ask for.

And my delight was swelled by the arrival in the garden of a vocal diva of the highest order.

Here he is:

Yes, a Song Thrush, a bird for whom his musical ability is so great that his name celebrates that.

They are an uncommon visitor to my garden, as is the case across much of the country, and in such sharp contrast to 30 years ago when they were much more widespread, so his arrival was incredibly welcome.

The song is notable for two things:

1) Its volume. This is a bird you can hear singing from 200 metres away or more.

2) Its structure. Few other birds sing a short phrase, repeat it a couple of times, pause, and then sing something totally different.

So, if you hear "sing, repeat, pause, move-on" with the volume dial turned up, then you're pretty certain to be onto a Song Thrush.

But what about this noisy butterfly, then? Well, a couple of days ago I turned over a plant pot lying next to the greenhouse and found this:

It's a hibernating Peacock. Normally you expect to find one in the dark corner of a shed maybe. But here it must have sat for the last four months, hoping that no lumbering oaf like me would disturb its slumber.

Well, it wasn't pleased! It repeatedly flashed his wings at me to scare me with its big eyespots.

(I didn't photograph that bit, so here is a photo of a different and much more awake (and less grumpy) Peacock in my garden this week.)

Back to my pot-bound Peacock because, as it flashed, it did its incredible party trick. It hissed at me!

How it works is that the Peacock has a special area where its two wings overlap that create the sound. I've heard about it, but never actually heard it, so I was surprised how audible it was.

You can imagine how a bird or mouse or suchlike, faced with the big staring eyes and a noise like a snake might think twice before trying to eat it.

So, wooed by Song Thrush song and wowed by butterfly hissing - how amazing that things like this happen right outside our back doors.

Anonymous