On a recent, very early morning in May, a group of Wild Roselanders gathered above Messack to experience and record the Dawn Chorus. David Hall describes the encounter.
5.00 am with early morning mist disappearing, as the first light arrives in Messack Wood and already a blackbird is singing its heart out, even though it is still cold. Sunrise comes at 5.40 am so we move quietly and quickly along the edges of open fields until we reach a kissing gate leading down into the wood, with bluebells everywhere and an increasing intensity of birdsong. We stop and try to identify the birds from sound alone because we cannot see them. We speak in hushed tones, not wanting to disturb the birds around us or distract them from their singing.
Down the muddy path, into the depths of the wood we go. Multiple species are now all singing different songs simultaneously. Dominant are Song Thrush, Blackcap and Wren, but in the background are Robins, Blackbirds, Blue tits, Great Tits, Longtailed Tits, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Wood Pigeons and, distantly, Yellowhammer, Curlew, Great Blackbacked Gulls, Herring Gulls, and a Tawny Owl!
The tiny seeping of Goldcrests is up above us in the tree canopy; and then, suddenly, we hear a call which causes confusion. Was that a Coal Tit or a Marsh Tit? Out come the Digital sound recorders and the smart phone apps but still we are not sure. It does not matter though for by now we are listening to an avian orchestral symphony. It is amazing.
As we climb out of the woodland and onto the open field amphitheatre again we walk into strengthening sunlight accompanied by the beautiful song of the Skylark high above us in a clear blue sky. It is now 7.00 am.
Was it worth it? Ask those who took part. “Well worth the effort and the early start”. “It was wonderful”. “Great fun”. and “Brilliant. An unforgettable experience.” Jo and I returned in the afternoon, but the birds then were hardly singing at all, apart from one male cirl bunting. However, we did see the best bluebell display I have ever seen in that wonderful wood. Shall we do it all again next year? You bet!
In time we hope to edit our collection of sound recordings, making them available for people to hear through our website and Facebook page.
Upcoming Wild Roseland Events – dates for your diary
Note that all events are free but a small donation of £3 would be welcomed.
Saturday 16th June 2018, 9am – 11am, Ruan Reading Room.
Drop in anytime between 9.00am and 11.00am to look at moths caught the previous night, all to be released unharmed in their local habitat from their different
Roseland villages. Examine moth traps; try identifying moths using various reference books or using onscreen magnification with help from enthusiasts running the session.
Other Wild Roseland Active Events coming up soon in 2018
Watch out for our summertime outdoor activities, including:
- Seaweed survey
- Farm visit
- Bat Recognition evening
- Fungus foray.
Details will appear in the Roseland Magazine, wildroseland.org, our Facebook page, and our monthly e-letter.
Thank you for all the support you have given to Wild Roseland by attending our programme of talks, or in any other way.
David Hall, Sarah Vandome
Edited by Sarah Vandome.
References and links
Enjoy more Roseland wildlife and landscapes – visit Sarah Vandome’s Heart of Roseland Facebook feature:
Wild Roseland is on Facebook.
Wild Roseland is a group of volunteers who care passionately about looking after the nature and landscape of the Roseland peninsula in south Cornwall. Through a number of initiatives and projects, the aim is to inspire and enhance the conservation of this special place for all.