The first rehearsals for this year’s dawn chorus have begun. Sunrise is greeted by a number of singers, some still immature and often slightly out of tune, but all will be well for the great dawn performances in April and May following a bit more practice and with the addition of other avian choristers. Most of the current singing is about territory, as many birds start to pair up in February and the older ones want to see off the young imposters. The crow of the new cockerel in the village hasn’t broken. He can manage a strained cocka- do, but the full cock-a-doodle-do is beyond his grasp. Time and a fine new set of tail feathers will be needed before he can impress his ladies.

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With not much to eat, the pigeons have taken to hanging precariously from the ivy, gorging themselves on the hard, black seeds. This is the time of the great pigeon shoots, which many consider the finest shooting of the year as farmers try and cull the birds’ numbers before they can damage the spring crops. The ivy needs culling, too. With so many of our trees under threat from disease at the moment, it seems a shame to allow ivy to kill one. A few judicious cuts to the ivy at the base of the tree’s trunk will make all the difference.

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