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A night with nature's concert

March 2017

Nature’s most celebrated singers will be performing almost 100 ‘concerts’ in the UK’s first “National Nightingale Festival” this April and May.

Hearing a nightingale should be on everyone's bucket list. It is the bird that inspired writers and poets from Keats to Shakespeare, and composers from Beethoven to Tchaikovsky. Sadly their song is disappearing from the countryside as numbers have fallen in Britain by 90% in the last 50 years and there are fewer and fewer places where it is possible to hear them.

Some of these few special sites in Gloucestershire, East & West Sussex, Kent, Essex, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire are laying on an extended series of events this April and May under the banner of “National Nightingale Festival” to help people experience the most famous of bird songsters.

The festival is a collaboration of The Wildlife Trusts, Huntingdonshire Borough Council, the Knepp Estate, Sam Lee’s Singing with Nightingales, and the RSPB. There will be guided walks, talks, and also a series of unique events that combine live folk music and storytelling performed against the backdrop of the birdsong and the still of night. The events include performances by Sam Lee, the BBC Folk Award winner and Mercury Music Prize nominee, soon to be heard on the soundtrack of the new Guy Ritchie movie “King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword”.

Nightingale song has inspired so many people but these birds are found these days just in a few sites, mainly nature reserves, in south and east England, with probably fewer than 6000 singing males left in England.

Adrian Thomas, RSPB Project Manager said "There's something about the power of the song, the virtuosity, the variety. And of course there's the fact that nightingales keep singing when other birds settle down for the night - the song just rings out of the darkness.

Louise Beary from Essex Wildlife Trust said: "It is great that so many organisations are coming together to celebrate nightingales in this way. We always put on a programme of walks here at Fingringhoe Wick, but we hope the festival will help many more people hear nightingales for the first time. We are especially excited to be one of the sites collaborating with Sam Lee and the Nest Collective for their innovative evenings of nightingales and music.”

Adrian Thomas said "There has always been something moving about listening to nightingales. But now, given their plight, it has become even more bittersweet. I believe that nightingale song is one of the great experiences of nature, and I hope as many people as possible grab their opportunity this spring."

To find out about all the events taking part in the first “National Nightingale Festival” visit www.rspb.org.uk/nightingalefestival



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