Up with the Dawn Chorus

Tomorrow is the first Sunday in May, and this day celebrates nature’s very own free musical performance. Dubbed International Dawn Chorus Day, it is set aside for nature lovers to rise early and bask in all the melodic twitterings our feathered friends have to offer. To celebrate, we are sharing a blog post from last year’s Dawn Chorus Walk, right here on the farm! Maybe you will feel inspired to rise early too…

I usually only see one 4:30 in a day, and as you may have guessed it isn’t the one followed by ‘AM’. Yet on Sunday 8th May I dragged myself out of bed at this ungodly hour, grabbed my camera with one hand and a croissant with the other, to join twenty other people in listening to nature’s orchestral spectacle – the Dawn Chorus.

Gerry Thomas, ornithologist and early morning tour guide, led us from the carpark and towards the three ponds, just as the night time was seeping away to the greyish morning light. Unfortunately, it seemed that the clouds did not wish for us to see an idyllic rural sunrise, but the birds were vocally undeterred and therefore so were we – wellies and walking boots meandering on towards the boardwalk, along the River Tern banks, the bluebell-clad ringwork and bailey site, and up to the woodland.

The woodland, as it had been during the 2021 Love Nature Festival, was a base for some conservation science – the band of bird ringers had returned! Once again, they were mist netting, recording the bird species, weight, sex and age, placing a unique ring on the bird’s leg and re-releasing. Our early morning group gathered to witness the ringing of a lovely little nuthatch, a mildly annoyed looking dunnock and a very vocal long tailed tit. However, throughout the day, Gerry’s group would ring 29 new birds, recapture six birds already ringed at Fordhall and two blackcaps bearing rings from other locations – the first ringed at Llangorse Lake in Powys and the second at Portland Bill in Dorset.

In amongst our assembly of Sunday morning wanderers was Fordhall Community Land Initiative Board Chair, Chris Tate. Sharing her experience of this particular event, Chris said:

“It was a very early start, with a chill in the air, but what better time to experience nature at its best (and most raucous!). On our walk we saw mandarin ducks, swallows, rabbits… and a bed of beautiful bluebells.

“I never really appreciated the range of bird songs until Gerry taught us how to recognise the calling of robins, blackbirds, chiffchaffs, swallows and carrion crows. As we ambled by the woodland, the River Tern and the ponds, we learnt all about their mating, survival and migration habits.

“The most fascinating was when we saw a long tail tit, a wren and a blue tit being ringed. We were mesmerised to watch the bird ringers determine their age from their wings and take their measurements and their weight. What an enjoyable morning, rounded off by a lovely hearty breakfast at Arthur’s.”

Francesca Lant, Marketing and Admin Apprentice

This article was first featured in the Summer 2022 edition of the Grazer magazine. For more info and to subscribe, visit:

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