The Oak Woodland
Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson captures the changing soundscape of an oak woodland over the four seasons.
A journey through the seasons in the company of an oak tree. Beginning in winter with the sounds of melting ice and a lone robin singing its plaintive melody, we travel through the seasons, noting not only the changes in the oak tree, but the wildlife which relies on the tree for food and shelter. In spring the young leaves break free of their bud scales and the number of young caterpillars in the foliage can be so great that on a fine day their droppings or frass can sound like rain. By late spring, oaks support huge populations of insects and this in turn attracts more birds; Great Tits, Pied Flycatchers, Redstarts and Tree creepers. In early summer, the wood warblers, whose song has been likened to a small coin spinning on a marble slab return and on warm summer nights the air is filled with the sound of oak bush crickets; which sing by drumming their hind leg against a leaf. They are accompanied by bats. Autumn arrives and with it the storms. Undeterred a storm cock continues to sing from its high perch. Jays are a common sight now collecting large numbers of acorns. Wood pigeons too gorge themselves on acorns whilst squirrels chase after one another up and down the Oak branches prior to mating. As the days shorten and winter approaches, another year in the life of the oak comes to an end, accompanied by roe deer and foxes calling in the darkness of the shortening days. Producer Sarah Blunt.