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Hands on the land


"A Bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song"

- Maya Angelou


This morning as we sat around the fire drinking our tea before the start of our Hands on the Land group, we were amazed by the variety of bird song around us. Our Monday morning project -which combines conservation work with a therapeutic support group and a mindfulness practice has totally changed my relationship to the woodland birds. Although I have always loved the sound of birdsong in the trees, it has been as a beautiful background soundscape and I hadn’t ever given much thought to the lives of the birds generating the songs. Working on our Hands on the Land project has changed all that.

Back in March, our group members made nestboxes for Blue and Great tits. We then hung these up on the trees around the site. One of the highlights of our project has been following the progress of these boxes – witnessing the gradual building of the nests inside the boxes, the laying of eggs, the hatching of the chicks, the growing and feeding of the young families and then the fledging of the young birds. It is lovely to think that some of the singers in the trees might have been born and raised in our nestboxes!

Tim- the woodland manager at Twyford farm- guides the conservation programme part of our group. He is a fount of knowledge on all things woodland and has really helped us to learn how to distinguish between the different birdsongs. He also showed us an app  called Merlin which helps learn to identify the nearby birds and their different songs.

Our Hands on the Land project is agreed to be an uplifting way to start the week by all those who attend. We can in part thank the birds for that! In a 2020 article titled “How Listening to Birdsong Can Transform Our Mental Health” London’s Natural History Museum reported on a survey in which participants described birdsong as comforting and calming during this stressful period. Environmental psychologist Dr Eleanor Ratchliffe conducted 3 studies the findings of which suggested that bird sounds can offer a respite from stress and mental tiredness.

Hands on the Land is a wellbeing support group held every Monday by Natureways Therapy. Get in touch for more information.



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