Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dawn Chorus

Sunday May 6 was International Dawn Chorus day. This year I lead a walk for Cuerden Valley Park Trust. We started at 0500 with about 16 folk. Robins, a song thrush and two crows commenced the concert and as we walked past Cuerden Hall, a Jay screeched its alarm and a blue tit scolded us for being too close.

 One of the advantages of starting early is birds start singing at different times. This makes it easier to note one call before some of the others start to sing. As we progressed towards Cock Cabin Wood we heard chiffchaffs, gold finches and long-tailed tits contributing their voices to the choir. A comparison between a blackbird song and that of a song thrush became possible. Chaffinch, great tit and coal tit song were added to the repertoire, as well as the call of a woodpigeon  We decided to make a small detour to breathe in the bouquet of the bluebells. They were absolutely beautiful.
On our way down to the bottom of the valley we heard the gentle sound of goldcrest, another chiffchaff and saw a grey heron lazily flying away. By the time we arrived at the lake the sun was getting higher and it enabled us to see the great crested grebe on her nest. I was just as thrilled to see a female orange tip butterfly on a cuckoo flower. We did wonder if it  was egg laying. We had passed lots of cuckoo flower as well as bluebells and two of the stitchworts. There were also the bright yellow eggs of green dock leaf beetle gastrophysia viridula, on a dock leaf and not too far from here we saw a male and female together. The difference in size is amazing at this time of the season. He is quite small, she looks enormous in comparison.
 Continuing upstream we noticed a few swallows harvesting midges over our heads and suddenly one of our party pointed excitedly to a willow tree overhanging the river. As we looked where she was pointing, we had a fantastic view of a smallish bird with a vivid blue back and an orange tummy - a kingfisher. It flew off but we saw it again two minutes later being followed by a second kingfisher. In the woodland, a newly excavated hole suggested a great spotted woodpecker was rearing young, but we neither saw or heard anything. Well actually we did, but it was a nuthatch on another tree. Not to be outdone, the recently arrived whitethroat decided to announce its presence as we approached the Barn. One of the local dog walkers came over and said those inevitable words " You've just missed a ...." On this occasion "a" was a roe deer. It was then time for a hot drink, toast with scrambled egg or bacon. A great start to a Sunday morning.                                                   The photo is by @saveourbogs.

Please do not forget the two causes which will benefit from my challenge >>

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