More than a thousand people have signed a campaign calling for the BBC to broadcast nightingale song live this May. The BBC’s first outside broadcast was a live transmission of the sound of nightingales singing in a Surrey wood, accompanied by the cellist Beatrice Harrison on the 18th May 1924. The broadcast proved so popular that the BBC continued to air the distinctive birdsong each May for the next 18 years.
In 1942, sound engineers were forced to hastily stop the transmission when Lancaster and Wellington bombers began to fly overhead on their way to a major air raid. The broadcast would have alerted the enemy to the oncoming air raid, giving them time to scramble, so the recording was never transmitted, and the annual tradition of broadcasting the nightingales’ song stopped.
Now campaigner Chris Rose is petitioning the BBC to bring back these broadcasts. He believes that such programmes will highlight the need to conserve the habitats of nightingales, whose population has declined by 55% since 1995 and who continue to be threatened by the development of British woodland.
To find out more about the petition, visit https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/broadcast-nightingales-live-on-bbc-radio-this-may-18th
Read more about the wonderful sounds of nightingales in Dominic Couzens feature in this month’s issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine.