This is the season of songbirds – the nightingales and skylarks whose voices resonate in poetry and music as well as nature. But with their numbers in freefall, could we lose them for ever?
The Guardian, Friday 11 April 2014 14.37 BST
It all began at two minutes to six on May Day last year, when the sonorous tones of Sir David Attenborough combined with the equally unmistakable call of the cuckoo, heralding the start of Tweet of the Day.
The response to the Radio 4 series, produced by my old colleagues at the BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol, surprised even the programme-makers themselves. Despite the early slot, millions of listeners have regularly tuned in to get their daily dose of birdsong.
Almost a year on, the radio series will soon reach its end, with Kate Humble's account of one of our more elusive birds, the stone curlew. After 260 programmes featuring 245 different species, the airwaves will fall silent.
Listeners' sense of loss may be alleviated by the BBC's decision to put the entire series on its website, and produce a book, of which I am a co-author. But when future generations download the recordings, and listen to skylarks and nightingales, cuckoos and turtle doves, will they feel a twinge of sadness that these species are no longer with us?