A resident wrote to say: ''Much as I love birdsong, I am being driven mad by the wrong kind of birdsong. Have you heard it? It sounds like a fire alarm or a stuck record or a feathered version of two-note banging techno and it is driving me mad, especially since it cannot be reported to the Antisocial Behaviour Team – not that doing that has ever solved anything. If you can hear it too, do you know what bird it is?''
Yes, I have heard it; there's a particularly persistent one that starts very early in the mornings. And has quite remarkable stamina. This particular culprit is a great tit.
There's a sound file here, though the BBC's bird is rather more relaxed. It must be one of the tit's gentler rural cousins. Ours are the racier in-yer-face urban variety, more than capable of competing with car alarms and police sirens. It's a repeated shrill metallic-sounding two-tone call that carries long distances, especially as it tends to get to the top of trees for broadcasting its territorial warning. This is bad news for top floor residents, particularly if they find 4am rather too early for an alarm call. (And as I write, one has just started up again - it's 7pm!) But the good news is that it won't go on for ever. At least I don't think it will – I associate the call with early spring and don't remember noticing it once the trees have regained a bit of foliage.
Unfortunately I don't think it's possible to take out an Anti Singing Bird Order, so you may need to invest in earplugs if it's stealing your sleep. They're too small – and far too pretty – to consider shooting them.... And they're a sign of spring so it seems a small price to pay.