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Nightingale, The (1932)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Oxford, before the Second World War . Cars and bicycles cross a bridge. In woodland near the city, "there are more nightingales to be heard than in any other part of England." In a wood of mature trees with a dense under-storey, two women, wearing skirts and cloche hats, use sticks to part the scrub, looking for nests.

The nightingale is described and compared to a robin. A nightingale nest site is found under a canopy of brambles, made from dried dead leaves, grass and moss. A female nightingale broods her chicks. Male and female birds, indistinguishable but denoted as 'mother' and 'father', approach the nest, pausing above it on a lichen-covered twig, often with caterpillars or other food in their beaks, sometimes bobbing about in a 'song and dance', always flicking their tails. More adult birds arrive at the nest with food to fill the begging mouths of the growing chicks. ''Nightingales prefer the darkest part of the wood for their hunting ground".

The chicks grow up. ''The adult birds feed the young on the point of fledging". The young clamber away from the nest - through the brambles.