After my visit to Cannock Chase on Saturday morning (3rd May) in search of adders I decided to visit the Wolseley Centre in Stafford before heading home. Walking into the visitor centre I spotted a poster for a dawn chorus walk at the Wolseley Centre for the following day.
As the Wolseley Centre is about a 45 minute drive from my flat, I decided to book into a Travelodge not far from the centre. Ok, so I am sure there are dawn chorus walks closer to home, but I booked it on the spur of the moment and the Wolseley Centre is one of my favourite nature reserves in Staffordshire.
The 4th May is International Dawn Chorus Day this year. The dawn chorus in a British woodland is one of the most rewarding natural experiences and worth the early start. I have to say, it didn’t feel like it when my alarm woke me up at 4.00am on Sunday morning.
I left the hotel at 5.00am. Standing on the car park outside the hotel I heard the first bird of the morning, the blackbird. The song of the blackbird always signals the start of spring and reminds me of my childhood days when I would go to bed on summer nights with my window open. The blackbird song takes me right back to being ten years old.
I reached the Wolseley Centre at about 5.15am. The rabbits were still hopping around the reserve at that time…
There were around 20 people on the walk. The ranger, Scott took us around the reserve pointing out various bird song. Growing up with a Mum and Dad who have a keen interest in wildlife, particularly birds, I have quite a good knowledge of bird song.
Luckily the weather, although a little chilly was calm and clear with no rain. We heard chaffinch, blackbird, chiffchaff, blackcap, warblers, song thrush and of course, the very noisy wren, one of my favourite birds.
During the dawn chorus each bird is singing for others of its own species. The blackbird or robin usually start the dawn chorus (like me you may be woken up by the blackbird song in the morning) then another will follow, and as time goes on a new type of bird will join the chorus. Sometimes as one bird sings, for example a blackbird, you will then hear another blackbird respond.
I managed to film some of the birds singing. Of course as soon as the camera comes out they either fly away or stop singing. So as with all photography and wildlife, it took a bit of patience. I didn’t have my tripod with me so I apologise for some of the shaky videos.
The Blue Tit
During the walk, I used a voice recorder to record some of the bird song I heard that morning (excuse the footsteps and rustling.) Can you identify some of the bird song based on the birds above?
The walk ended at about 7.00am. When we arrived back at the visitor centre, two volunteers were in the outdoor area cooking bacon on the barbeque. I think a bacon bap was well deserved.
I would definitely recommend the dawn chorus to anyone whether they have an interest in birds or not. The early start is definitely worth it. It’s lovely to join a guided walk in order to improve your knowledge of birdsong, but it can be done in your own back garden and is a very relaxing and rewarding experience and is a good way to forget all your worries.