EARLY risers are no strangers to morning birdsong but everyone’s being invited to take part in the 2017 International Dawn Chorus Day on Sunday May 7.
BBC Radio Ulster and RTÉ Radio 1 are joining forces again this year with broadcasters in Europe and India to bring the sounds of our native birds to listeners.
And in our house, at least two of us are planning a camp-out to make sure we don’t miss out on this ornithological cacophony of sound!
Why the Dawn Chorus?
Open your bedroom window any morning at dawn from late March to early July and you’re bound to hear birds singing to greet the sun. Experts say the dawn chorus is at its strongest during the breeding season. Male birds use their song to reinforce their territory boundaries and attract females.
Tune into the Dawn Chorus
Nature doesn’t recognise man-made borders. For decades, conservationists on both side of the Irish border have shared information and cooperated on projects aimed at safeguarding the island’s native species and habitats.
So, it makes sense that RTÉ Radio 1 and BBC Radio Ulster should pool their resources for International Dawn Chorus Day.
Presenter Darryl Grimason and bird expert Dr Bob Brown will be live on BBC Radio Ulster this Sunday from midnight until 6am at Castle Espie Wetland Centre, outside Comber, in Co Down.
At the same time, RTÉ’s Derek Mooney and his Mooney Goes Wild team will be bringing us birdsong from across Ireland and Europe.
“After the comparative silence of a dark winter, spring birdsong is proof of life: a universal panacea that brightens the mood. And when the dawn chorus is in full swing, on a woodland walk or even a dander through suburbia, it can make you stop in your tracks – look to heaven in the treetops and put a smile on your face,” says Darryl.
And why choose radio as the medium to celebrate the dawn chorus with members of the public?
“The feedback we receive, year after year, from Irish radio listeners has convinced us that there is indeed something very, very special about the Dawn Chorus. It is ideally suited to radio: indeed, it’s hard to think of anything that is a more natural fit. More than that, for thousands of people the Dawn Chorus has become a unique introduction to a wider natural world, right on their own doorsteps, of which they were previously unaware. It is an experience to which everyone can relate and in which everyone can share,” according to Mooney Goes Wild.
Our Dawn Chorus
In our patch, I’ve made several attempts to share the magic of the dawn chorus with one or both of our daughters. So far, all efforts have ended with me awake and alone beside an open window, having unsuccessfully attempted to rouse the girls from that deep sleep only children can achieve.
This year, I’m hoping to give myself a head start in my efforts to have a wakeful companion by camping in the garden. Inspired by the fact that I have veteran Cub Scout Ava (11) and her tent-erecting skills at my disposal I’m fairly confident this Dawn Chorus day will not be a lonely vigil.
If we’re lucky, we may even hear a cuckoo. Having recently blogged about an appeal for the public’s help in recording cuckoo sounds and sightings I was thrilled to hear that ‘cuc-oo’ while gardening this week.
I’m hoping to be able to write about our dawn chorus experience after Sunday so wish me luck that the sunny weather doesn’t break and the tent doesn’t collapse!
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Happy International Dawn Chorus Day!