Husband often works away from home and although he uses an alarm he says that he tends to wake up when the lorries start thundering past his hotel. Usually sometime between 6.30 and 7.00 am, no matter what time of year.

Here it is a bit different. We are not woken up by lorries (unless the dustbin men are particularly early), nor does traffic intrude on our slumbers as our few neighbours have to drive very slowly on our rutted track. What we do have, though, is a guaranteed alarm clock. The birds. Where we live dawn actually means dawn – or sometimes a little bit earlier, that pre-dawn, just-beginning-to think-about-getting-light dawn.

It starts with the blackbirds, and we have quite a few blackbirds residing in our garden so they manage to make a considerable amount of noise, then the smaller birds join in; sparrows, finches, tits, robins, all gleefully singing about how they have survived the night and wondering what will be put out on the bird table for them this morning. And will the householders please get up and fill the seed feeders now! Following on from the smaller birds the ‘big guns’ join in. The doves (gentle cooing) and the pigeons. The wood pigeons – the jumbo jets of the garden – blunder about making as much noise as possible, including tap dancing on the roof right over our bedroom. I’m pretty certain they have perfected the perfect dance routine whilst wearing giant hob-nailed boots. It sounds like it.

This year, though, we consider ourselves to have been lucky. No pheasants roosting in the hedge outside our bedroom window. Previously these modern dinosaurs (have you ever looked at a pheasant and noted its resemblance to a tyrannosaur?) were constantly in the garden; the puffed up male with its hideous croaking call and wing flapping that made it sound like a carpet beater would always roost just outside and wake us up at stupid o’clock – ie a little past 4am in the summer!

Once the initial rousing cacophony is over the sound levels due tend to subside a little, but the singing can quite easily go on for an hour or more. And if we are lucky enough to doze off again – well the pigeons seem to know and start practising a new routine on the roof, just to make sure we don’t sleep too late.

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