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To: The BBC

Broadcast Nightingales live on BBC radio this May

Good news: we have finally succeeded. Last night (14 June 2016) BBC Springwatch finally managed to broadcast a very short snatch of Nightingale song, live on air. It’s now very late in the season and they sing erratically and not at full throttle as they do in early May but here it is:

(watch from 52.50mins)

For a reminder of what the 1924-1942 annual BBC broadcasts were like that captivated radio audiences by the million and started with Lord Reith’s historic first ever Outside Broadcast, listen to this evocative 1942 recording of a Nightingale singing as warplanes gather overhead:

Dear BBC

Please bring the magic of Nightingale song to people all over Britain this May, by broadcasting it live from our woods or countryside. Local and national radio and tv have the power to do this, and at a stroke, to improve the quality of our lives. Please invite singers or musicians along, as in the historic first ever Outside Broadcast which featured a Nightingale responding to a Cello in 1924. It would also raise awareness of the need to help these vanishing magical songsters. So few birds are left, that there are now more people in Britain called 'Nightingale' than there are real live singing Nightingales.

Why is this important?

Anyone who has ever heard the song of a Nightingale, knows the extraordinary heart-lifting, soul-penetrating power of the voice of this bird. For a few brief weeks in April and May, the males sing at night to attract the attention of females on migration, flying overhead.

For hundreds of years, people from all walks of life stopped to listen: poets, artists, singers, lyricists, woodsmen, passers by and householders lucky enough to live within earshot. The liquid outpouring of song lets us know Spring is here in all its glory and has inspired folk songs, art and plays as well as leaving its name in such humble places such as 'Nightingale Lane'.

Nightingales were always part of what made life worth living but now their voice is fading.

Between 1966 and 2008 their numbers fell 91%. Since then the decline has continued. Even in their traditional strongholds in SE England, where Nightingales were common enough to be caught for cage birds in Victorian times and pairs were counted by the hundred in the 1950s, a site with a dozen singing Nightingales is now exceptional. On present trends, this bird that inspired Keats and Chaucer, faces extinction in England.

So unless something is done, we may soon only have place names, surnames and Nightingales in books, art and literature to remind us that we once shared this land with the magical songster. At the last count (2012) there were thought to be under 5,850 Nightingales left alive and singing in England. They have been lost from Wales, from across the North and almost all of the Midlands and the South West, and are rapidly dwindling almost everywhere.

In stories the Nightingale is often associated with tragedy and betrayal as well as with love and joy. So let's celebrate Nightingales and not betray them by forgetting. There are now 12,000 people living in Britain for every singing Nightingale. So if you can, grab the rare chance to hear the real thing and reconnect with this sublime piece of nature.

And, because only the media has the reach to share the experience with everyone, ask your local radio station to come along, as well as signing this petition, and sharing it with your friends.

The first BBC Outside Broadcast back in the 1920s was so popular that it was continued every year for almost 20 years. Re-starting that tradition might help ensure Nightingales are still around to marvel at in the 2020s.

Support the campaign for a national Nightingale Night (May 2 - 9) at and @NgaleNights so the whole country tunes in to Nightingales once more.

* * *

You can find events already organised to go out and hear our remaining Nightingales at the website. We've also listed some more of the places where they may still be heard but we need help. Broadcasters, singers and musicians can help by celebrating local singing Nightingales. Friends and families can capture their own recordings - add them to our SoundCloud site.

There is a bigger picture. Lots of evidence shows both that each passing generation has become less connected with nature, and that connection to nature is good for us, especially for children.

So help give our children the opportunity to hear Nightingales sing, by supporting the campaigns to save their remaining populations from destruction of their nesting sites, and by backing efforts to help this wonderful bird, which also faces pressures from deer grazing in woods, pesticides and climate change.

Also, the Nightingale is but one of many songbirds, which for similar reasons, are rapidly vanishing from our countryside, our urban green sanctuaries and suburban woods, and thus from our lives ( Its loss would be part of what some call, "the extinction of experience", and as David Attenborough said "No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced". That is a vicious spiral which you can help break.

Chris Rose and Phil Rothwell

Reasons for signing

  • It would be lovely to hear a nightingale live.
  • Whye not a webcast?
  • People need to b more aware of the dangers to this lovely bird


2016-06-15 16:20:19 +0100

Petition is successful with 3,087 signatures

2016-06-14 11:12:34 +0100

Last night (13 6 16) Martin Hugh-Games of BBC Springwatch said ( about 58mins) he'd be going looking for a live singing nightingale on tonight's programme. As Chris Packham could be heard saying it's 'a bit late' as most (but not all) have stopped singing some weeks ago but good luck Martin ( @MartinHGames) - watch out for Springwatch tonight BBC2 8-9pm. Many thanks to Ali Reynolds for pointing this out

2016-05-09 23:27:58 +0100

3017 signatures today 9 May ! Keep sharing Will try to do another live online nightingale broadcast soon (streaming -
or look for the 'nightingaler' mic (orange when live) at Many thanks to all the recent signatories. The nightingales need you

2016-05-09 23:27:58 +0100

3017 signatures today 9 May ! Keep sharing Will try to do another live online nightingale broadcast soon (streaming -
or look for the 'nightingaler' mic (orange when live) at Many thanks to all the recent signatories. The nightingales need you

2016-05-07 09:47:24 +0100

Thanks to everyone who has signed ! we are at 2985 only 15 to go before 3000. Pls share Thanks also to all who listened last night's live streaming broadcast of a Norfolk nightingale. He went on the 45 mins (!) and the mic was live all that time.

Alternatively look for the 'nightingaler' mic (orange when live) at

2016-05-06 10:06:06 +0100

We are just 44 short of 3,000 ! Pls share !
Listen out for live streaming broadcasts at Links (map) and (direct)
Do 'tune in' if you can - will tweet it from @NgaleNights
more at thanks Chris

2016-05-02 22:25:35 +0100

Listen out this week (and hopefully next) for some live nightingale broadcasts - if the bird(s), weather and tech co-operate. From 8ish onwards but mainly after sunset (currently about 8.25pm) I'll try most nighst to do a broadcast (streaming) at

(I have changed the name to mobile_nightingaler)

Alternatively look for the live (orange) mic at (lother mics to listen to as well). If mine's not active it won't be visible.

If you'd like to be added to a text alert when we're live please email me [email protected] with your name and mobile number. I promise not to make any other nuisance calls.

I will also tweet it - follow me on @NgaleNights

2016-04-24 21:50:04 +0100

We’ve done it ! The first live broadcast of a nightingale since 1942, so far as I know (!) Tonight I did a live stream broadcast of a nightingale from nr Wiveton Down in N Norfolk. It sang briefly when we were testing the signal on To listen in select "north norfolk" when the mic "north norfolk" is showing. I'll try again soon and tweet it to let people know, from @NgaleNights. It was cold (6.C) - hopefully things will improve. I was using a mobile phone and free app thanks to advice from Grant Smith (see May 1 dawn chorus event With your help I still hope we can encourage the BBC to overcome the technical difficulties, and bring back the Lord Reith tradition of annual May broadcasts. Still, it's good to know that (thanks to a nice signal from Vodafone and an £18 phone from Argos), where Reith led we can now follow, even if the C21st BBC can't.

2015-05-21 21:47:00 +0100

2824 today - please do keep signing !

2015-05-21 21:46:26 +0100

We reached over 2800 on 19 May, anniversary of the 1st BBC Nightingale broadcast and sent the petition to the BBC (Springwatch at Minsmere). Rosemary Edwards Springwatch editor wrote us a nice letter. Read the correspondence here and see the letter to the Springwatch Production team here Very many thanks to all who signed. We hope to continue the campaign to try and persuade the BBC to reinstate the annual May Nightingale broadcasts.

2015-05-15 22:00:25 +0100

Fantastic that we reached over 2700 today 15 May. Four days to go until anniversary of BBC's first live OB of nightingale on May 19. Pls help us reach 3000 ! Last night nearly 200 people listened to the stream from Flordon but the bird didn't sing ... until after we stopped recording !

2015-05-13 23:07:14 +0100

Today we reached 2639 signatures - thank you ! Tomorrow (THURSDAY 14 May 2015) we are going to try a streaming broadcast at about 2215 - 2245. A Nightingale has been singing regularly about 1030 pm in James Bradford’s garden. If it has found a mate – it may have stopped singing ! But otherwise we are going to try to stream it (below) from about 1015 pm for half an hour or so, on Thursday May 14th. Fingers crossed. Thanks to Richard Fair for doing the sound capture and streaming. link here:

2015-05-08 23:46:48 +0100

Robin Maynard says: Great campaign! In the early Summer of 1978 I floated down the Thames from Bablock Hythe in a child's inflatable dingy with 3 friends, somewhat inebriated - reciting the Scholar Gypsy & other poems, but outsung & silenced by a watch of nightingales just south of the bridge crossing & pub we'd been taking ale in. Magical!

2015-05-07 15:37:02 +0100

See this blog about our campaign, "Don't let our nightingales go quietly !" at The Ecologist magazine - up today

2015-05-06 12:53:24 +0100

Hooray ! We reached 2500 ! Thank you signers.

2015-05-04 21:53:37 +0100

We are in the EDP (website) today

Heard 2 nightingales at Blakeney Esker/Wiveton Down in Norfolk and another near Cley STW /Glandford last night

2015-05-02 16:18:36 +0100

Have you seen this remarkable video in which a human (Ziazan ) signs to a Nightingale and the Nightingale Sings back ? Recorded in a Suffolk lane on May 1 to start National Nightingale Nights (week 2 - 9 May) Ziazan has resurrected an ancient singing technique called Bel Canto which is about voice control and enables her to 'sing like a bird'. See more here

2015-04-30 13:32:29 +0100

Important new advice based on research, from the BTO Not very exciting title - 'Managing Scrub for Nightingales' - but useful for landowners and managers who want to help. Nightingales would be in agreement !

2015-04-30 12:22:37 +0100

We now have a video gallery here:
please send us a link to your videos of nightingales singing (whether you can see the bird or not !) after posting at Youtube or Vimeo and we will embed it at the Gallery (email link to chris [at]

2015-04-30 12:19:50 +0100

BTO /Wildlife Trusts project

2015-04-29 22:39:28 +0100

Thank you all for signing today - we passed 2400 ! Couple of new recordings at He was just getting going really well ... and then the battery went flat. Wiveton Down N Norfolk. Tropical sound, Sub arctic temperature.

2015-04-29 17:51:23 +0100

Irene Jones says Nightingales singing in Church Lane, Albourne, W Sussex BN6 9BZ
plus Clive Barwick says they are at Fingringhoe Wick in Essex (see listing under 'Find Them' at

2015-04-29 17:49:39 +0100

Alexandra Walker says I am going to listen to them tonight at Lackford Lakes, near Bury St Edmunds

2015-04-28 19:50:17 +0100

Nick Dando says "I heard a couple of nightingales singing at 15:00 this afternoon at Ailsworth Heath, part of the Castor Hanglands National Nature Reserve in Cambridgeshire.

2015-04-28 18:48:00 +0100

Read this blog by Bill Adams, conservation author and prof at Cambridge Uni on an encounter with an East Anglian Nightingale

2015-04-27 17:59:43 +0100

Campaign website is now updated with causes of decline, more songs, recordings (thank you all !), more pubs and place names, books and info - do visit and let us know if you can suggest other places people can hear Nightingales Also we need help making a map of Nightingale place names

2015-04-19 02:25:15 +0100


2015-04-17 22:13:08 +0100

Great news - we flew past 2000 signatures today. Went down to Suffolk to see Ziazan 'The Suffolk Nightingale' today (see more about her in the song/music section of, also a couple of extra places to listen to nightingales under Places - Castor Hanglands in Cambridgeshire and Wolves Wood in Suffolk). She's had two by her garden already and plans to try singing with them soon.

2015-04-16 20:43:28 +0100

Lots more tracks now at our SoundCloud site. Listen to this fantastic Suffolk pub group of singers with a song about Nightingales from Southwold Harbour ...

2015-04-16 01:23:07 +0100

We now have a NightingaleNights SoundCloud group where you can add your tracks eg if you have recorded a nightingale or a song about one or any other relevant sounds ! First sign up for a SoundCloud account (free) and post your track(s). Then join the group at -- you can then upload any of your own tracks to it either from your stream or at the Group. thanks !

2015-04-13 23:23:16 +0100

We just passed 1900 signatures ! Thank you. And Nightingales are back at Whisby Nature Park near Lincoln. By the way, if you use the email link to contact me please put your name and email address in the message or else I don't know who you are. Or email me directly at chris [at] thanks

2015-04-12 11:47:21 +0100

Nick Penny says: I went up to Glapthorn Cow Pasture this morning and after about an hour heard two short passages of the first nightingale I've heard this year, HURRAAAAH!!!!
I posted a short clip of it in a vocal battle with a blackcap at

2015-04-12 02:10:00 +0100

We have reached 1762 signatures ! Thank you. This is great but please help spread the word some more. Visit our new website to see PLACES to hear Nightingales and EVENTS to join in order to do so. Check out the Nightingale surname bit '' to see how there are now more people called Nightingale in Britain than real live singing birds. Know of anyone called Nightingale ? If so, pls ask them to help.

2014-06-24 15:32:56 +0100

See the recap of what happened here Bryony from 38D and I delivered the petition - over 1400 signed in the end. BBC broadcast a pre-record but not a live Nightingale. RSPB did a great live broadcast of birds (thank you) but the nightingale failed to sing ! Hope to try again for a National Nightingale Night in May 2015.

2014-05-19 22:38:25 +0100

Danny Boy on violin - Janet Welsh plus Lincolnshire Nightingale at Whisby Nature Reserve

2014-05-19 22:24:25 +0100

Jane Waston recording midnight May 18:

2014-05-19 06:10:58 +0100

Sadly no live nightingale in Kent for RSPB last night but fantastic mesmerising marsh frogs and lots of other birds. But Jane Watson heard another amazing one in Wineham, at midnight last night.

2014-05-17 20:05:40 +0100

SUNDAY LIVE - RSPB Nightingale online streaming of Nightingales should be here:

2014-05-17 20:03:58 +0100

RSPB recording of Nightingale from recce at Lodge Hill on 15 5 14 (on a cold windy night)

2014-05-17 19:57:06 +0100

Mike Drew's Nightingale track is now here

2014-05-14 11:23:42 +0100

Let's not give up !

Please do two things. First, keep asking friends, relations and colleagues to sign the petition to make it a live Nightingale broadcast. It's not too late. Send this:

Second, help us start a National Nightingale Night by going out to listen for one on Sunday May 18th, the original anniversary. Let me know what you find - [email protected] - and I'll post reports here and at the campaign page.

If you can record one, and send me a file, I'll post it at SoundCloud. I'll tweet any links from @campaignstrat

2014-05-14 11:22:26 +0100

Disappointing news about the BBC's planned May 19th special R4 Nightingale Broadcast. Despite being scheduled at 11pm, the BBC has confirmed to 38Degrees that it will not be a live broadcast, only a pre-recorded re-enactment of the 1924 Nightingale + Cello broadcast.

While the BBC deserves credit for this, it is a huge missed opportunity to contribute to engaging and re-connecting people with nature. Just as recorded music is not the same thing as live music, hearing a recorded Nightingale is not at all the same as the connection you make with a real, live, singing bird.

This is after all, why the 1924 - 1942 broadcasts struck such a powerful emotional chord. What a shame if the BBC in the digital age, cannot accomplish what Lord Reith and his engineers did back in the days of 'string and ceiling wax'.

Apparently the BBC's reasons are that the cello might get wet and the nightingales might not sing. Yet this did not stop the BBC in 1924.

2014-05-11 19:27:56 +0100

Hooray and thank you for all your support - we have passed 1300 signatures and today the Sunday Telegraph carried a piece saying that they will be broadacasting nightingales. See BBC Relives First Wildlife Broadcast 90 years on STelegraph: (with some great photos). At first this seemed like a success but it's not clear from the report whether it will in fact involve any LIVE broadcasts of nightingales or just recent recordings, which would not be the same at all as the 1924 - 1942 traditional broadcasts.

I wrote to the BBC on May 1 with the details of the petition as it then stood but have yet to hear anything from them. So please keep collecting support from friends and relations - sign here: for a real live #NightingaleNight event ! thanks Chris

2014-05-10 21:50:37 +0100

My partner Sarah and I heard two, probably three nightingales tonight singing at Wiveton Down Local Nature Reserve in N Norfolk (near Blakeney). One at the SE corner, one near the T junction at the NW and another in the gorse-y part outside the reserve across the road at the NW. Location: Plus saw two lovely hares. Chris Rose

2014-05-10 10:38:17 +0100

Caroline Gellor writes:

Hi. You can hear nightingales in the Lee Valley Park just outside London at a place called Fishers Green. They are singing well now and can be heard in daylight hours. Take A10 north out of London, cross the M25. At the next roundabout turn right (3rd exit) and follow signs to Waltham Abbey. At Waltham Abbey follow signs to Lee Valley Park Farms. At Hayes Hill farm turn left down track, pass farm turn off and park in Fishers Green car park. Walk over river lee on road bridge and follow path to gate and start listening. At least 4 nightingales present. Check out Lee Valley website for more info.
Cheers Caroline

2014-05-10 00:20:22 +0100

Carol Wood heard Nightingales "tonight at Highnam woods . Thanks to the warm welcome from the wardens. A magical night." Gloucestershire

2014-05-09 20:33:09 +0100

Jane Watson from Wineham in Sussex sent this great recent recording of a nightingale with a cuckoo.

She says: "We have been following your campaign because we live in a Nightingale 'Hotspot' - a tiny village called Wineham in Sussex. There is always a Nightingale singing somewhere here at this time of year - whatever time of day!!

Last week we had a tv crew from Meridian here to do a story on our Nightingales because the whole area is under threat from some London developers! We are obviously campaigning hard against it because this is a beautiful rural area and it would be sacrilege - If you have Facebook please give us a 'like':

Good luck with the campaign - they are the most incredible little birds!

2014-05-09 13:24:09 +0100

Andre Farrar and friends at the RSPB are preparing to broadcast nightingales ... somehow ... even if the BBC say 'no'. Which they haven't yet. If may 18th became a national Nightingale Night with multiple broadcasts and listening-s, that would be a wonderful thing. See Andre in action and read his blog here:

2014-05-07 17:56:06 +0100

between 1967 and 2007 the nightingale population of Britain, which is confined to England, fell by 91 per cent. - Michael McCarthy, the Independent 2010 (BTO figures). A sobering thought.

2014-05-06 20:51:26 +0100

After Michael McCarthy's piece we passed 1200 ... I heard two nightingales (briefly) at the weekend at Salthouse Heath. Thanks to everyone who is supporting !

2014-05-05 23:01:38 +0100

Michael McCarthy of The Independent has just published a piece online about the petition - due to appear in the print edition of the newspaper tomorrow - He says: "Isn’t it time the BBC broadcast the song of the nightingale again? After ‘Tweet of the Day’, I’m sure the Corporation would be in sympathy with the idea" and "I can testify fully to its potential worth: to hear a nightingale live at midnight, singing gloriously through the surrounding quiet, is a riveting experience, even when conveyed to you over the airwaves"

2014-05-04 14:51:52 +0100

Nightingales have more musical songs as they are better at learning via @MailOnline

2014-05-04 14:48:28 +0100

The end of the nightingale's song? Songbirds are in dangerous decline - and could disappear completely from Britain if their breeding sites aren't saved from developers, experts warn via @MailOnline

2014-04-30 08:50:43 +0100

1,000 signatures reached

2014-04-29 23:08:24 +0100

Almost at 1000 ! 967 tonight. Please help us reach 1000 by May 1st.

2014-04-25 15:11:46 +0100

Yippee we've passed 600 ! I've heard that the BBC OB unit has been disbanded ... so possibly the BBC can not do in 2014 what it could do in 1924 ... which would be a shame. I've already had quite a few suggestions as to other ways that the broadcast could happen, eg online. But I'm still hopeful to BBC will find a way to do it. Thanks for your support and pls keep signing people up

2014-04-24 21:14:46 +0100

500 signatures reached

2014-04-23 23:58:14 +0100

We have passed 450 signatures today - thank you everyone. We need to convince the BBC that listeners and viewers would really like this so please keep encouraging friends and relations to sign up by sharing on social media - or even better, talking to them in person ! Nightingales are now arriving on our shores and there aren't many days left to get organised.

2014-04-18 11:53:00 +0100

We have passed 300 signatures ! Thanks all. And the campaign was mentioned on Newsnight last night. Thank you Newsnight. The average first arrival date for Nightingales is April 16 so if you are in the woods - listen out from now on.

2014-04-15 13:45:00 +0100

Great that we are now over 200. Have been talking to people in the BBC and RSPB. Will ask BTO when the first nightingales are expected to reach the UK this year ...

2014-04-14 16:43:37 +0100

see also

2014-04-14 11:52:37 +0100

You can now use this shorter more user-friendly link to spread the word to friends, relatives and anyone you think might help bring Nightingales back to the BBC:

2014-04-14 10:54:26 +0100

100 signatures reached

2014-04-13 19:59:44 +0100

50 signatures reached

2014-04-13 13:19:38 +0100

25 signatures reached

2014-04-13 08:27:43 +0100

10 signatures reached