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RSPB and Kent Wildlife Trust National Nightingale Festival comes to Kent

Nature’s superstar soloist is coming to Medway, possibly for one of the last times.

The RSPB and Kent Wildlife Trust are coming together to help people hear the songs of nightingales as part of the UK’s first National Nightingale Festival.

The bird has inspired writers and composers for years, from Shakespeare to Beethoven.

A nightingale. File picture
A nightingale. File picture

Sadly, their famous song is disappearing from the countryside as numbers have fallen in Britain by 90% in the last 50 years.

Fortunately Kent and Medway are one of their last strongholds and a series of events are taking place this year, aiming to help people hear their song.

Organiser Adrian Thomas said: “There’s something about the nightingale’s song that makes it so special. It has power, virtuosity, variety. And of course there’s the fact that nightingales keep singing when other birds settle down for the night – the song just rings out of the darkness. Given that nightingales are so scarce these days, these events are the perfect opportunity to experience a piece of natural magic in the company of experts.”

The festival includes guided walks by Kent Wildlife Trust and the RSPB, plus a series of unique Singing with Nightingales events that combine live folk music and storytelling.

Sam Lee, the BBC Folk Award winner, will be one of the artists performing.

He said: “Discovering the song of the nightingale was a transformative experience for me. In history and folklore it has been the muse of artists and country folk for aeons, but I was not prepared for its sorrowful elegant beauty.

“Learning to sing with them and bringing some of the UK’s finest musicians to collaborate alongside this bird has become a songful pilgrimage for me. It’s also made me as eager to draw attention to the fragility of these majestic singers as I am to not let the old folk songs be lost to the silence.”

Festival Dates:

- May 4, RSPB Northward Hill, near High Halstow, Medway - evening, free drop in event

- May 5, Singing with Nightingales, Green Farm, near Ashford - evening event

- May 6, Singing with Nightingales, Green Farm, near Ashford - evening event

- May 7, RSPB Blean Woods, near Canterbury - early morning, guided walk

- May 7, Wraik Hill Local Nature Reserve - morning, guided walk, donations welcome

- May 10, RSPB Cliffe Marshes Medway - evening, free guided walk

- May 12, Singing with Nightingales, Green Farm, near Ashford - evening event

- May 19, Singing with Nightingales, Green Farm, nearr Ashford - evening event

- May 27, RSPB Blean Woods, near Canterbury - evening, guided walk

Visit www.rspb.org.uk/nightingalefestival

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