Three of our Young Ambassadors - Charlie, Izzy and Chris, got up very early on a sunny morning in May to record their experiences of the dawn chorus. 

Charlie's experience

The breath of fresh air offered by an early start is unmatched and coupled with a serenade by some of the best songsters in the UK, which makes the dawn chorus an unbeatable combination. No excuse is needed to get up for International Dawn Chorus Day, and the early rise is now a yearly occurrence for me. This year was no different and it was a sheer delight.

Photo of the sunrise

I got outside just in time for the first Robin to start up at 4:41am. It muttered to start with, but at the darkness of the night faded, it perked up and several competitors started as well. A Blackbird, a bird that I feel has an underrated song, started up at bit later, but before long it wasn’t alone. The build-up continued and I found a Song Thrush that had joined the fray, with its song of repeating notes able to be heard across the village.

Photo of a robin

I walked out onto some farmland to see what else was around. Skylarks were ever present, and a Yellowhammer popped up to sing its ‘little bit of bread and no cheeeeseee’. I was equally pleased to hear a Corn Bunting singing, a real Wiltshire specialty that has disappeared from many parts of the country.

Photo of a corn bunting

During this time, the corvids started to wake with a trickle of Rooks constantly moving over me. The Jackdaws also followed suit with their quiet chattering that filled the air. Dunnocks, Great Tits, the gentle cooing of a Woodpigeon and the scratchy notes of a Whitethroat provided a backing track to the increasing activity that was fit for the Royal Albert Hall. The calm manner of the early morning backed up by nature’s ensemble provided an experience that was soothing yet exhilarating.

The simplicity of a single bird singing, yet the complexity of so many individuals and species joining in the dawn chorus is the essence that makes it so magical. It’s an uplifting constant in a world that can feel so constantly low. It’s a daily occurrence of nature’s greatest symphony that I recommend all to enjoy and cherish.

Izzy's experience

I was up for an early start which is not a rare occurrence as a bird ringer, and could already hear the chorus of my local wild birds singing their hearts out.

I first went out for a wander round the woods next to my house and immediately heard the pre-Dawn singers. The Robin lead the ensemble, with his song consisting of a number of high pitched, drawn out notes which quickly descend in pitch, but increase in speed. It has a wistful, but perky manner and flows nicely, even allowing for pauses between verses.

The early singers are joined by woodpigeons with their ‘my toes are bleeeeding’ and wrens who burst out long, jumbled bubbling verses introduced by abrupt churrs and scolds and made up of 12-16 recognizable syllables. Nicknamed the 'northern nightingale' and the 'mock nightingale' due to its pretty, flute-like song, the blackcap starts up a tune. Blackcaps are stunning grey warblers with a distinctive blackcap, and hearing their sweet, chattering warble is so special!

Great tits, blue tits, sparrows and finches only add their voices when it's light enough for them to see.

Photo of a blue tit

The dawn chorus is all about defending territory and raising chicks. The singing you can hear in the morning is typically carried out by the males.

Making so much noise uses up a lot of energy, especially on an empty stomach and after a chilly night, so only the strongest, best-fed males will produce the loudest songs and in doing so they demonstrate to females that they are fit, healthy and hold a territory with plenty of food, exactly what the females are looking for!

Photo of a bird singing

Chris' experience

Willing yourself to wake up at dawn can be tough, but it is worth it in order to hear one of the years most magical moments; the dawn chorus.

On May 1st, I was awoken to the sound of the neighbourhood robin, staking his claim on a part of my back garden as his territory, he would soon be helping to raise a brood of hungry chicks in the following week.

Tired but hopeful for an auditory dream, I made my way to a group of fields bordered by hawthorn bushes. Camera in hand, I stood quietly and listened - instantly, I was surrounded by birds of all shapes and sizes and all sounds and songs, a wren diminutive in size, was by far the loudest of the group, calling from within the depths of a bramble patch.

Photo of a wren

Robins called from the tops of trees, with great tits and blue tits alike adding their own calls creating a cacophony of sounds. Woodpigeon and blackbird were heard in the distance, perched on an overhead telephone wire adding to the already evocative commotion.

The highlight was of a common whitethroat - a first for me both in Wiltshire and the UK - its almost scratchy yet ever changing song emanating from the canopy of the nearby oaks that sprung in the hedgerows.

Photo of a bird singing

No sooner had the dawn chorus begun, it soon came to an end, and I would make my way home excited to repeat it all again next year.

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