Saturday, 4 May 2013

Black Day.

4th May.  I was awake at 3.30am this morning listening to Blackbirds singing, soon to be joined by other songsters.  I wondered if was such a good idea to be getting up at 4.15am and heading for the Rising Sun Country Park for the Dawn Chorus event.  Surely the climax is going to be over before I even get there I thought!  As it happens I think I was probably correct and a 5.30am start to the walk seemed to be too late.  Although I’m not so sure that a dawn chorus, as such, ever really got started.  Even the organiser acknowledged that we were a bit late.  Not to worry as I have my own dawn chorus adventure planned.  Make sure your alarm is in working order Sam!

Anyway as we walked around the park I noticed I wasn’t the only one with a running nose.  As well as the cold air I think the pollen count must have been high and the smell of pine was strong.  The heavy rain didn’t help either, and I do recall Mistle Thrushes singing before the downpour.  The ‘storm cock’ never lets me down.  I was soaked, so a good breakfast at the end of the walk was more than welcomed.  Yes folks it did rain very heavily early on today, but I’m guessing quite a few of you were still tucked up in bed.  Warblers heard and seen were Common Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap.  Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed loudly.  My highlight was watching two Grey Partridge slowly meandering across the fields.  I’m not sure many of the group saw them as by this point everyone seemed to have given up and chatted as they headed for the centre and breakfast.  I have to say that the chatting throughout the morning was a problem.  Why get up so early in the morning to listen for a dawn chorus if your going to chat throughout?   A major problem with any kind of group bird watching activity I suppose and the main reason I’m less and less keen on such situations.  I did make a comment about this on the feedback and I feel participants should have been asked to keep the chat down.  I’m sure I can’t have been the only one who noticed this.

Best part of the morning as far as I’m concerned was a later visit to Holywell.  Much more peaceful and despite it being later in the morning, much more bird song including my first Sedge Warblers of the year.  A short visit was made to the pond area where Shoveller and Goldeneye were included in birds seen.  I can’t remember my last visit to Holywell when I didn’t see Tree Sparrows, but I didn’t see any today.  More Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs, in some number, and three pairs of Blackcap in a relatively small space in the dene.  Yellowhammer, Linnet and a Grey Wagtail near to the nesting site of last year were seen along with the likes of Stock Dove.  Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard again.

This evening, as I try to recover from my very early start to the day, what should come into the garden and take water from the bird bath, but a male Blackcap.  The first of this species I have seen in the garden for several years.  A much under-rated species, and one of many seen today.  The Blackbird is singing from its perch, in the exact spot it was yesterday evening and I can listen in peace.

Glibby gloop gloopy Nibby Nabby Noopy La La La Lo Lo
Sabba sibby sabba nooby abba nabba Le Le Lo Lo
Tooby ooby walla Nooby abba nabba
Early mornin' singin' song

Yes the above are actual song lyrics and I guess kind of sum up my line of thinking at 4.00am!


  1. I've been up to Swallow twice so far, at FIRST light and before, this spring and not disappointed. I've heard just as much on the walk up before the sun has risen. Best done alone Brian.
    Just you and the birds. THEN..........the dreaded dog walkers start to appear. It's generally downhill from there. I like to go up there early spring thro' summer as it gets too busy during the day.

  2. Agree John, or at least with folk who know when to keep their gobs shut.:-)

    Best time for Killy Lake is early morning or evening too, especially on a Sunday. It can be quite atmospheric. Although goodness knows what the council are now doing to the lake and surrounds! Once the Swanbusters and council we can consider if the atmosphere includes birds or it's just there to provide a pretty view for the residents!!!

  3. Yeah I reckon that doing the Dawn Chorus with Sam, is a better bet. Not much fun that you got soaked too on Saturday!