Sunday, 17 May 2015

RSPB Dawn Chorus event 2015

 A cool misty start for the Dawn Chorus
For Dawn Chorus day this year, on 26th April the local RSPB Wildlife Explorers group ran an excellent session at Ladderstile farm - a farm in Cheshire in a spectacular setting close to Bosley. It was a cool crisp morning with the grass still a little icy from the night before, and with the early start we were treated to a beautiful sunrise over the still misty landscape. 

The 6am start commenced with a talk about birdsong – explaining why birds sing (i.e. to hold a territory and to attract a mate, in almost all species the singing being done solely by the male) and with the help of a little modern technology as well as images of the corresponding birds, a guide to (or reminder of) the songs of several of the species of songbird we were most likely to hear during the morning, from the familiar ‘tea-cher tea-cher’ of the Great Tit, to the Collared Dove, with its call likened to the chanting of a bored ‘U-ni-ted’ fan, the repeating phrases of the Song Thrush to the wonderful fluty song of the Blackbird amongst several others.

Descending into the mist on the Dawn Chorus walk
After this brief presentation followed a walk through the farmland, by woods and the river Dane with the beautiful Peak District in the background on what was a cool but beautifully clear day with the RSPB leaders helping to identify the birdsong heard along the way. 

Wonderful to see were good numbers of Barn Swallows, migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, which were making their homes amongst the old farm buildings and to hear their lovely babbling and burbling songs and calls. Other summer [bird] migrants included Chiffchaffs with their sweet and simple ‘chiff-chaff-chiff-chaff’ song and Blackcaps with their lovely warbling – their song can be easily confused with that of Garden Warblers but we were fortunate to have good enough views to be able to confirm their identity. (The song of Garden Warblers is more ‘scratchy’ in comparison though I’m not convinced I can reliably tell the two apart yet from sound alone!)

A total of 23 bird species were heard singing (or calling) during the event as below;
Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Collared Dove, Goldfinch, Great Tit, House Sparrow, Jay, Jackdaw, Long-tailed tit, Mallard, Nuthatch, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Song Thrush, Swallow, Wood Pigeon and last but certainly not least... a Wren.

The event finished with a hot and very welcome breakfast cooked by RSPB volunteers and thanks go to the owners for allowing the RSPB to hold their Dawn Chorus event at this wonderful location.

Time to stop and take photos or videos was a little limited so the below are a couple of videos taken in our garden of our resident male Blackbird - he always starts singing before dawn, though fortunately for me, is also happy to sing throughout the day!