Dawn is another country
They sing things differently there. But you can reach that impossibly lovely place. You already have the visa: your own willpower, your own delight in nature. All you have to do is set the alarm and go to bed.
Now there’s always a good reason for not getting up at 3.30am, but even I can do it, so you most certainly can. Just find a suitable morning as close to 1 May as possible and commit yourself… knowing that your journey will take you to a different world.
Dress for a cold day in winter, because you’ll be sitting or standing about a fair bit. Wear waterproof trousers if you have a pair; if not, put a plastic bag in your pocket. Now you can sit down anywhere; you have taken control. A flask of your favourite morning reviver is a good plan, too – leave the stuff out ready before you go to bed, to avoid crashing about.
Take your binoculars if you have some, but they’re not essential. This is about listening, and it’s more about looking at the big picture than picking out minute details. Don’t forget gloves and a hat.
Perhaps you can’t identify a single bird from the noise it makes. Never mind, you can enjoy a glorious piece of music even if you can’t name a single instrument in the orchestra. But you can do a bit of homework if you like. Here’s a suggestion: just listen for three different songs.
First, listen to the blackbird and enjoy a wonderful, relaxed fluting. Then try song thrush, and hear the loud, urgent repetitions. And after that, great tit – fervent two-syllable shouting: teacher teacher teacher. That’ll do; leave it at that. No need to confuse yourself.