Royal Mail Stamp Issue Celebrates Songbirds!
Throughout the year, Royal Mail releases stamp issues which celebrate various aspects of life in Britain. The subject matter varies dramatically as recent issues have showcased the music of David Bowie, the nation’s favourite racehorses and the Mr Men! Now the spotlight has fallen on songbirds.
The Stamps are being issued in time for Dawn Chorus Day (7 May) and explore the birds whose gorgeous songs define spring and early summer in this country. Familiar birds and less well-known species feature in the issue and there are 10 lovely stamps to enjoy. So which songbirds have been chosen?
Amongst the first birds to hail the arrival of spring, great tits have varied yet unmistakable songs. Their call is often transcribed as ‘teacher-teacher-teacher’ and has been described as being similar to the sound of a squeaky pump! Great tit numbers are improving so you may see these songbirds in your garden this year.
Wrens can really make a racket and so it is hard to ignore their rattly sound. There is a long trill at the end to ensure you are paying attention! The wren population is increasing so look out for those little cocked tails!
You are unlikely to see willow warblers in your garden because these birds prefer wilder places. They fly to the UK form western Africa each summer but their numbers are declining. If you do take a walk on the wild side, listen out for their soft song with its signature lisping descent.
Britain’s smallest bird, the goldcrest’s song matches its size. It’s a delicate trickle of notes that is easy to miss. The goldcrest population is recovering slowly so you may catch a glimpse of these tiny birds and their flaming headdress.
Ground birds and living in arable fields and grass, skylarks are generally hard to spot. But in springtime they take to the air so you may be lucky enough to them but their numbers are falling sharply.
With a prolonged and tuneful song, the blackcap is always a welcome visitor. They love mature gardens and parks but they like to take cover so are not readily seen. However, the blackcap population is on the rise so you might get lucky.
These birds love a little repetition! They will adopt a phrase and run through it a few times and then change their tune! They are attracted to both trees and open spaces and so can be seen in parks and gardens but their numbers are in steep decline.
Nightingales can sing all day and all night! Their crescendo of whistles is extremely loud and they are given to emitting strange radiophonic sounds with the occasional addition of a melody. This is another bird whose numbers are in sharp decline.
There is no mistaking the sound of a cuckoo but it is a sound which is becoming increasingly rare. Famous for laying their eggs in other birds’ nests, the cuckoo winters in Africa and then arrives here in spring. But the cuckoo population is decreasing rapidly.
This hedge-loving bird is being threatened by agricultural practices. Its song is the traditional soundtrack of the farm but is not heard so often these days. Traditionally transcribed as ‘a little bit of bread and no cheese’ it’s actually more like ‘bread-bread-bread-bread cheeeeeese’!
Don't forget to stock up on bird food so you can enjoy the sound of songbirds in your garden!