A cho­rus of ap­proval for one of na­ture’s won­ders

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - WILD LIFE -

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

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