Tomorrow is International Dawn Chorus Day. Many organisations, such as the county branches of the Wildlife Trusts will be hosting various dawn chorus walks tomorrow and throughout May, with experts on hand to help identify what's being heard. It'll be an early start - most of the walks are timed for about 5am, just as the dawn chorus is beginning to reach its crescendo.
I've been awake since 4am most days for the past few weeks. The robins are particularly vocal at that time. We also appear to have a female tawny owl calling out for a mate at the moment, so it's pretty noisy around here, even with double glazing. Once awake, I continue to doze until proper waking up time and I'm aware of the constantly changing chorus of birds until about 6.30am. The dawn chorus is the male birds way of finding out who from their rivals have survived the night. These are still quite chilly at the moment and any bird that hasn't fed properly the previous day is vulnerable. It also allows the birds to tell any female in the vicinity just how good a catch they are as they're a born survivor, plus warn any other males out of their teritory.
Before the internet really got going, I invested in the pictured book by the rather aptly named Geoff Sample. It has 2 CDs to help you identify the calls of around 200 birds of Britain and Northern Europe. It's arranged by habitat, so I just need to find the urban, garden and farmland sections to hear the calls of most of the birds around here. I can now find the same information on the internet of course, but somehow it isn't the same as Geoff's whispered voice telling me what's what. If you can't get to any of the walks, the BBC have been going around the country recording this year's dawn chorus. You can find what's down your way by flying over to this website and clicking on the area of the map that's nearest to you. Happy listening!