Sunday, 3 May 2020

International Dawn Chorus Day

International Dawn Chorus Day

As today is International dawn Chorus Day, Heather and I decided to get up early and join in.  Setting the alarm for 4.00 am I went to bed early to get as much sleep as possible.  At the appointed hour I got up to make tea (neither of us can function in the morning without our early morning brew!) and by 5.00 we were outside recording the local blackbird serenade which is always a delight for the soul.  Setting off and squeezing through the 'back of our wardrobe' (the hole in the fence behind the local lock-ups!) we popped out into a magic world with the Horsefield and edgeland spread out before us.  We were about half an hour before sunrise but already the sky was a blaze of colour.  Birds were singing everwhere.  We had already had the blackbird choir and now the house sparrow line joined in with the local crows and magpies forming the base line.  Scambling over Gooseman's Drain and into the Horsefield proper, the sky was ablaze, with mist wreathing around the far hedgerow beyond the dew-covered grass.

Crossing over Peake's Tunnel, we carried on past the site of the old farm and into the Dead Wood, or, as the map calls it, Carr Plantation.  We thought that we would have the wood to ourselves and were intrigued to discover two people with saws busily gathering their firewood.  Well, I suppose the council do no management in here, so they may as well.  In the wood it was a veritable choral concert of bird song.  Whitethroats had been singing from the hedgerow as we approached and these were joined by willow warbler and chiffchaff.  Blackbirds formed the most numerous group but were, perhaps, outperformed on the volume front by a couple of song thrushes.  Robins, wrens and tits with the occasional chaffinch added their quota.  Wood pigeons crooned soporifically in the background while the occasional pheasant was more raucous and a great spotted wood pecker drummed in the distance.  Altogether an uplifting and joyful experience.  Just a shame that traffic noise from Peake's Parkway disturbed the peace somewhat; all essential journeys no doubt!

Once through the wood we completed the circuit back to Peake's tunnel and retraced our path round the Horsefield by the edge of the allotments and woodland burial ground.  Several whitethroats were busy along here with willow warblers and chiffchaff singing in the cemetery plantation.  On reaching the large ash tree in the corner, the chaffinch tree as we have come to call it, a song thrush sang loudly and melodiously from its topmost branches allowing an opportunity for photography.  Continuing up the hedge side we heard and saw yellowhammer and linnet.  I was interested to note that the crow was not sitting on the nest so I hope that all is well.  Returning across the cultivated field, I was delighted to see a couple of swallows swooping and soaring and, later, back in among the houses, one on a telephone wire.  The final treat was the opportunity to photograph a starling on the corner of the house.  These are much underrated birds with their iridescent colours and amazing ability to mimic not just bird song, but any number of other sounds such as telephones.

After a fabulous morning we were back for breakfast  and it was not yet 8.00 am.

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