I’m not great on birds. My dad loved birds, knew all the names and calls. One of my dearest-ever mates is the same, he’s my go-to with a badly-taken pic saying “Niall, what’s this bird?” Amazingly, he hasn’t yet told us to just STOP. For me, birds are there. They’re fine. They look good – tui, piwaiwaka, kingfisher. They sound good – bellbird, owl, morepork. The finches and sparrows are very good at flitting around our little back garden. And there’s a whole other story about blackbirds being members of my family (another time). This year they have been particularly busy and enjoyed all of the cherries on the cherry tree. Which is ok, I can buy cherries, they can’t. But, other than that, they’re just birds.

But several of you suggested bird joys in the #55Joys list, and two of them were about the dawn chorus. Which I celebrated today from the comfort of my own bed.

We’re having a heatwave. You’ve probably noticed. It’s rare enough in the UK to be Big News (despite the fact that it seems to happen every year) and it’s making sleeping at night a little tricky. So last night, at about 1am, I opened the door in our loft bedroom to let in some air – it opens to a non-balcony, the sky and the south-west city. At 3.30am it was open to the dawn chorus. The birds woke me, all of the different calls, different pitch, tone, speed, tune. Each one an individual song.

I sleep badly at the best of times and wake easily, worried I’ll be tired the next day, not able to get on, not able to work. This morning I lay for a good twenty minutes, in my own bed, with a cool breeze from the open door, listening to the south London dawn chorus. Then I went back to sleep until 6.30am. It was a mid-night joy.