Just before I headed off to Bilbao I started a book by journalist Michael Mcarthy called 'Say Goodbye to The Cuckoo. The night before we set off I was reading a chapter pre-dominantly about the mythification of the Nightingale, a bird almost everyone has heard of but very few are familiar with these days or as MM put it it has 'vanished almost totally from the lives of people'
Cut to the top of a scrub covered hill behind Bilbao, a little ahead of our group who had walked back a way to view a soaring Griffon Vulture, I had just found three juvenile Red-backed Shrike and I was easing myself along a narrow track toward some cover to see if I could capture some shots of one or more. A thorn provided an arch over the path, a male Blackbird flew up scolding me for disturbing it. I dipped my head under the arch and stopped catching sight of a reddish-brown bird in a bare Elderberry bush a few feet away.
It may not have sang but it presented itself well, pumping it's tail twice before flying off and vanishing into deep cover further up the hillside. It left an image imprinted in my mind's eye to sit alongside the sweet night-time song that filled the darkness around our villa whilst on honeymoon in Croatia some years back. No gale, no darkness but still a Nightingale in the flesh.