Every year, on or near the 4th of April, we leave the microphones out in the back garden to record the dawn chorus. It's a simple ritual, partly to mark the beginning of a new season, and partly to compare how the dawn chorus sounds now compared to last year. Despite us living in Hackney in the North East of London, where the buildings and roads don't change much, the soundscape from year to year does. It's always different. We've been making these recordings for 12 years and, not surprisingly, last year saw the most dramatic change. London was in its first lockdown. The schools were closed, the roads mostly empty, reduced to a fraction of the normal traffic. And the skies had fallen silent. No more planes chasing the tail of another, minute by minute. As the day dawned and the sky lightened, the gardens behind the terraced houses woke to high circling seagulls and silky soft birdsong. Unimaginable, impossible in any other year. Gone the rumble and whining of jet engines, gone the rattling bumps of cars on speed bumps. Gone the heavy grey noise, the aural fog that coagulates the air. Instead see-sawing great tits, echoing, crisp and pure. The jovial cooing of wood pigeons. The cawing of rooks. Some screeching green parrots on a mission to get somewhere else fast, and little delicate chittering birds commuting from roof to roof. And like an operatic performer, like a musical instrument perched in a tree, the most totemic of garden birds began to sing its song. Melodious. Perfectly clear. Wonderfully inventive. Inflecting notes of cheer and even glee, as it embarks upon its journey into spring. A blackbird.