A chorus of approval for one of nature’s wonders
meadows of BBOWT’s Dancersend nature reserve, near Wendover, offers the opportunity to marvel at some of the iconic sounds of the dawn chorus.
The incessant songflight of the skylark over the chalk grassland meadows is often the first sound to greet you on an early morning visit as the bird takes its cue from the eastern sky.
It is traditionally one of the earliest risers (origin of ‘up with the lark’) – is there a better songster?
Once in the woodland it can be great fun (and a real challenge!) attempting to identify how many birds are singing at once!
It is during the dawn chorus that one realises the size and variety of the bird population of an area. The rich repertoire of melodic notes of a blackbird, the soft conversational notes of a flock of rooks, the desolate song of a mistle thrush and the rhythmic cooing of woodpigeons are some of the sounds to be heard at first light.
As the sun continues to rise, the song of a strident song thrush and the similar sounding garden warbler and blackcap from a dense thicket should be very evident.
By five o’clock, the songs of many other common woodland birds, such as dunnock, chiffchaff, chaffinch, nuthatch, blue and great tits will echo through the wood and all add to the magnificent intense peak of the woodland dawn chorus.
As the sun begins to rise and as birds begin to feed and set about the affairs of the day the chorus dies away.
So why do birds sing and why is it concentrated at day break?
Bird song is driven by sex hormones and is essential for setting up and defending a territory, as well as establishing and maintaining the bond between a breeding pair of birds.
The song must be far-carrying, unmistakeable and maintained over long periods of time to be effective.
Learning bird sounds is a very useful exercise for aiding bird identification as songs and calls are among birds’ most obvious attributes.
The principal method of learning bird songs and calls, apart from through field experience, is to listen to various sets of bird recordings.
However, there is no substitute for personal effort and experience. Everyone’s experiences are different as some people have difficulty in hearing certain frequencies or may have blank spots within the normal hearing range.
It’s vibrant and uplifting; it’s powerful and it’s melodic; it’s soothing, yet it’s stimulating and it happens every morning throughout spring.
Why not get up early to treat yourself to one of nature’s great wonders!
Discover the joys of a dawn chorus on our walks at Finemere Wood on Saturday May 6 or College Lake on Sunday May 7. Find more information at www.bbowt.org.uk/ whats-on