The rich melodies of warblers are ringing out from the hedgerows and woodlands of Clackmannanshire in a vibrant celebration of spring, and there is no more beautiful songster than the blackcap.

It is nigh-on impossible to give a true insight into the beauty of the song through the written word, but suffice to say the song of the blackcap has a volume and richness that few other birds can match. It is delivered with a quite startling boldness; there is no gentle warm up or soft introductory tones, just an incredible short blast of high intensity music.

Blackcaps are now getting down to the business of building their nests deep in bramble thickets and nettle patches, or sometimes in ivy against walls. The nest is a neat little affair, gently slung by ‘basket handles’ between plant stems and the cup lined with fine grass and hair; the rim decorated with cobwebs and cocoons.

Another warbler making it presence felt is the willow warbler. It too has a marvellous song, but its rising and descending tune is much softer than that of the blackcap. The American naturalist John Burroughs eloquently described the song as a ‘tender delicious warble’ that ‘expires upon the air in a gentle murmur’.

I am pretty sure willow warblers in my own home patch are not as abundant as they once were, perhaps due to competition with its close cousin, the chiffchaff, which over the last few decades has become increasingly common in Clackmannanshire.

In thickets down by the River Devon, the scratchy calls of whitethroats ring out, while in damper margins, sedge warblers deliver their short but lively chattering songs. The male sedge warbler swivels his head from side to side to ensure his rather grating musical notes are projected in all directions.

The prize for the strangest warbler song undoubtedly belongs to the grasshopper warbler, which is somewhat akin to the noise of a fishing line being drawn out from a reel. They are fickle birds, and in some years there can be several singing males by the River Devon, yet in others they are totally absent. They start reeling well after sunset and in a good grasshopper warbler year I often hear them on warm evenings when out walking in the diminishing twilight.