26 Sept 2022

Wild About Wildlife: Enjoying the mini dawn chorus

Wild About Wildlife: Enjoying the mini dawn chorus

Spring is in the air for most of the northern hemisphere, and with that comes the promise of long and gloriously toasty summer days Picture: Pexels

Weekdays are early starts for many households and our house is no different. Kids have to be dragged out of cosy beds and got ready for school and for the parents, work has to be negotiated for the day.
If the morning is dry I like to sneak outside for a few minutes and enjoy the slowly emerging dawn. I find this helps me to wake me up and connect with the day. With the weather been so fine birds have become increasingly active and vocal in the morning.
This mini dawn chorus is a great way to greet the natural world. It will not have the full complement of singers and songs till May and a chorus in full flight is one of the wonders of spring.
My mini dawn chorus started with robins singing all around my house. I could hear three different robins singing and they have their territories well marked out. The first takes in the front of my neighbour’s garden, the dividing hedge and part of a long conifer hedgerow that follows a path into the village. The top half of this hedgerow belongs to another robin and he also includes the shrubs around the local shop.
The next territory borders the opposite side of my neighbour’s house where there is an old shed. This used to be a milk testing centre back in the 1960s where local farmers would bring their milk to be checked.
The back of my house is home to our resident robin and he also has summer rights to the side of the house where one of the bird feeders is located. This is also located by the small front yard where the outdoor cats are feed and there is also the potential of a good meaty meal of cat food, albeit a dangerous one.
Just like humans access to resources can lead to conflict and this robin is not on good terms with his neighbour across the road. I have often watched running battles that sometimes involves both pairs of males and females and saved their lives with a quick clap of the hands when the cat tries to sneak up.
The last bit of territory around my house is where I store the farmyard manure. This is a no lands land when it comes to the birds with no particular species laying climb to it. This is probably due to the lack of any suitable nesting location but I am trying to remedy this by planting a good thick native hedge along the exposed northern boundary.
As the dawn progressed I heard the sharp call of the magpie from the darkness. They roost across the road in the tall rhododendron and this provides them with shelter and also a quick escape route into the taller trees.
The blackbirds were too busy scolding each other to bother singing. But they have been actively singing in the evenings on the farm. This is especially true after a very fine day.
Woodpigeons have one of my songs of spring. It is deep, throaty and full of energy. I have spotted a pair in my garden and out the front of my house during the last week. I have lost track of time as always and quickly rush back inside to give the gang a hurry along. When all are back on track I stand by the door again and it has got a little brighter.
The robins have quietened down and other birds have started to sing. I heard the powerful song of the wren and a great tit is calling in the trees across the road. I have heard him in the same location all week and this must be his preferred nesting place.
There is also a great tit in the garden and I spotted him checking out the nest boxes. The last bird we heard as we got into the car was the starling. They have returned to nest in the vent in the apartment next door. The return of birds to nest in my garden connects the seasons together and is both reassuring and uplifting that nature cycles are continuing to function.

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