Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Dawn Chorus

A robin RedbreastOn Sunday 4 May I attended a special event called the International Dawn Chorus Day at Bedford’s Park, Essex whilst most of you were fast asleep. The Dawn Chorus day was part of a series of events organised by The Wildlife Trusts throughout the UK.

As I left home at 4 am in the morning, our resident
robin was already in full throttle, staking his territorial claim, telling other males to ‘clear off or else’. Our breeding male is always seeing ‘red’, he even has a habit of chasing off the male chaffinches who have a slate blue crown and nape at this time of year, but also have a chestnut coloured mantle. Or perhaps he is a true Ken Livingstone fan and doesn’t take kindly to impersonators who think they can run such a large valuable habitat. Apparently robins and blackbirds are the ones that you are most likely to hear first thing in the morning. So if you are woken up by them, they could be the main culprits! Although a few weeks ago I was woken up by the dull chirps of our wonderful and endangered cockney sparrow, so keep your bird ID book and bird call CD handy before you point the finger of blame at the wrong bird!

The walk started at 4.30 am around the reserve with volunteers who helped us to identify the various bird calls. The best time to listen to nature’s wonderful orchestra is first thing in the morning because traffic is almost non-existent. During the walk, we heard:
· cuckoo, blackbird, robin, whitethroat, black cap, carrion crow, wren, chaffinch, blue tit, great tit, long-tailed tit, song thrush, jackdaw, great spotted woodpecker, green woodpecker, wood pigeon, stock dove, garden warbler, dunnock, chiffchaff, kestrel.

It was absolutely wonderful, at one point they were all going off at once and I did get a bit confused. At the end of the walk we went inside the Visitor Centre for a very nice hot cooked breakfast and a hot drink to wash it down. This is one of my favourite parts because whilst you wait for your breakfast you share experiences with young and old alike. Everyone is so chilled out and friendly.

Even when I go on bird walks with my partner, it’s a completely different world. Almost every dog walker or nature walker I go past will give us a greeting. I always leave nature reserves feeling really positive about other people and my faith in mankind is restored. Unfortunately, once you are out of the nature reserve, the same face you see on the tube day after day will just look blankly back at you unless you choose to hide in your music, book or newspaper. The only time you and your tube buddy are likely to talk is when a major delay has happened and even then all you can say to each other are negative things. So, if you haven’t already been to your local nature reserve and experienced what I am talking about, go on and try it, say hello to the first stranger that walks past you.

If you are interested in listening to the dawn chorus, then you could either open your bedroom window and lay back in bed, or stand outside in your garden or go to a special event. There are only a few left for 2008, so check out the following:
Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and the International Dawn Chorus Day in London or International Dawn Chorus Day in Essex. Alternatively, have a look in March or April next year. It’s well worth it.
Click
here to find out information on specific birds.
Good birding!
Miss Tajinder Lachhar
P.S. I’m hoping to ‘hear’ nightingales next week and I’ll try and send a report on that.

9 comments:

  1. Could some of you nature-lovers identify what animal would have been responsible for what we found this morning in our Barkingside back garden:

    2 separate large piles of turds
    1 separate large pile of shredded worms

    No dogs can get in our garden, as a life-long cat owner I can definitely say it was not feline poo, so I am left with the thought that it must have been those damn wretched foxes.

    Or Godzilla.

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  2. Judith,
    Could you supply a "scratch n' sniff" pdf?

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  3. Clearly left by some unknown sh*t!

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  4. Tajinder Lachhar9:52 am, May 08, 2008

    Judith

    Based on my experience, foxes don't create large piles of scats (fox droppings). However, the Mammal Society (http://www.abdn.ac.uk/~nhi775/foxsurv.htm) say they do leave a number of droppings in their territory. Their scats will have a distinctive twist on one end and it is very obvious. Here are two links which show you some pictures:

    BTO: http://www.bto.org/gbw/mammals/species%20accounts/redfo.htm

    Google images: http://images.google.co.uk/images?hl=en&q=fox%20scats&cr=countryUK%7CcountryGB&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi

    This is my own personal advice (not anything I have read), but I wouldn't remove it. If you try to think like an animal, the fox may think another fox has removed it and is staking claim to his/ her territory so they may scat over your garden again. Up to you. Or you could just push it to one side in the flower beds which gives useful nutrients to the plants!

    I don't know anything about shredded worms I'm afraid. However, a large part of a foxes diet does include worms. Based on previous experience, until I see the culprit I wouldn't like to assume it's a fox.

    Here's a website about foxes which you might like to read in order to investigate further and email them about this particular behaviour:

    http://www.nfws.org.uk/

    For those people who don't feel foxes are 'wretched', this website is also useful for fox mange treatment which is a herbal remedy. If a fox is not treated within a few months it could die. There is also a helpful emergency number for rescuing injured foxes.

    Judith - Let me know if these pictures don't help and I'll try to do some more research. We will need size, colour, general description, etc.

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  5. Tajinder, thank you for taking all that trouble.

    I'm pretty sure it is fox scat, and given I only have a very small, mostly paved garden, leaving the dumps alone, together with the bluebottles they had attracted, was simply not an option.

    And I'm afraid I do regard town foxes as wretched - they are out of their natural habitat, with no predators to keep their numbers in check, and they are as disgusting as dogs in their toilet habits.

    Speaking of which, I'm getting really fed up with those dog owners who use plastic bags to scoop up their dogs' poo, and then leave the bags lying at the foot of pavement trees or tucked behind street furniture.

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  6. Thanks for this post B21 - first thoughts why go to Bedford's Park and why only the Dawn Chorus - but then I'm like that.
    1. you can stay in bed leaving the window open. Dawn chorus can be heard here.
    2. Evening chorus - at this thyme of year is equal to any dawn 'territory marking' chorus.
    I am somewhat surprised there is little mention of the sounds the other beasties emit? Dragon fly, may fly, frog, toad, newt, fox, muntjac deer etc. and all embraced by the forever wailing siren of the Policicus noisiaticus extreme'.
    Enjoy what is all around you - but I appreiate that is less newsworthy - unless you headline it - The noises of the day in Redbridge - hehehe.

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  7. Since all threads are being broken, Judith, if you click the babel translation tool for the French version of what you are saying (and the others too), it makes hilarious reading.
    annesevant

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  8. Tajinder Lachhar5:10 pm, May 13, 2008

    Judith

    Foxes are dogs, they are a member of the Canid family. A fox is a predator and therefore in this case it does not have another predator to keep it in check. What does keep it in check is habitat and availability of food. You may not believe this, but scientific evidence has shown that fox numbers are under check because 3/4 cubs die before the age of 1 (mostly car accidents) and if the last 1 makes if after Year 1 it could be killed by the dominant dog fox or it could be a failure to find suitable habitat/territory to survive.

    If this is not their natural habitat, then we could apply your same thought process to all plants and animals that dare to cross London's gardens. They have adapted and are here to stay. Sometimes people don't realise that foxes offer other benefits. I've seen my local one catching rats. Therefore, I can live with a scat or two, but not a rat or two!

    Agree on some dogworkers leaving bags of dog poo hanging from trees. Very unsightly!

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  9. Tajinder Lachhar5:16 pm, May 13, 2008

    Richard

    Apologies if I have offended. My note was simply to encourage those individuals who would like to know a bit more about the dawn chorus. Having someone around to explain things does really help.

    Just to let you know, I have been regularly watching the antics of the newts in my pond and looking out for bats over my garden. My article was timed for the International Dawn Chorus Day, that's all. I am simply writing about current events that are going on so that others may relate to them.

    Incidentally, for all concerned... I have noticed the starlings are rather anxious and taking food away to their young. Based on several years of experience, I think starling chicks are due to fledge this week or next week. Look out in your back gardens, they will be brown birds (same size as adults) begging for food from their parents! You can't miss the noise.

    All the best!

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