The nightingale should be on everyone’s nature ‘bucket list’; it is the bird that has inspired writers and poets from Keats to Shakespeare, and composers from Beethoven to Tchaikovsky.
Sadly, their famous song is disappearing from the countryside as numbers have fallen in Britain by 90% in the last 50 years and there are increasingly few places where it is possible to find them. Less than 6,000 pairs are thought to remain nationally.
Fortunately, Kent, including Medway, is one of their last strongholds, and a series of events in the county will this year aim to help people hear them as part of the UK’s first 'National Nightingale Festival'.
The events include guided walks by Kent Wildlife Trust and the RSPB, plus a series of unique 'Singing with Nightingales' events that combine live folk music and storytelling performed against the backdrop of the birdsong by a range of artists including Sam Lee, the BBC Folk Award winner and Mercury Music Prize nominee and soon to be heard on the soundtrack of the new Guy Ritchie movie, ‘King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword’.
Links to all the events and their full details and times are at www.rspb.org.uk/nightingalefestival. Most require advance booking and most carry a charge.
Kent wildlife Trust are running two:
- 3 May Holborough Marshes, Medway Valley (Kent Wildlife Trust) (morning, guided walk, donations welcome)
- 7 May Wraik Hill Local Nature Reserve (Kent Wildlife Trust) (morning, guided walk, donations welcome)
Greg Hitchcock, Conservation Officer at Kent Wildlife Trust, said: “If you’ve never heard the song of the nightingale you owe it to yourself to get out there and discover why it has inspired poets, musicians, singers and naturalists for centuries. Now more than ever it is important to understand what we face losing if the decline of this species continues.”