Get up at 5am on Sunday and be at one with nature as you listen to the dawn chorus
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They are working with the RSPB on an ambitious livestream of this musical feast from its nature reserves across the UK. Sunday is International Dawn Chorus day – when it is at its peak, boosted by the arrival of summer visitors such as warblers.
The RSPB wants you to join it at 5am and join it at rspb.org.uk/dawnchorus until 9am.
You can also share your own soundscapes across social media using #MyDawnChorus and #DawnChorusDay.
Dawn is when male birds vie for females with their love songs.
The quality of their song reveals how fit they are and how much food their territory has.
The songs also serve as a warning to rival males seeking to encroach on their territory and steal their mate.
The birds sing at dawn partly because their song can travel up to 20 times further than later in the day because the air is cooler.
To give you a taste of what to expect let me take you through some of the star singers – with links to their songs alongside, courtesy of the RSPB.
Our guide will be the site manager of RSPB Franchises Lodge in the New Forest, Richard Snelling.
The Daily Express and eco-entrepreneur Dale Vince are helping the RSPB fund-raise to buy neighbouring Horse Common, which would add 91 acres to Franchises Lodge’s 1,000 acres.
This will create a haven for birds such as the endangered lesser spotted woodpecker and willow tit as well as toads and newts, marsh orchids and butterflies such as the silver-studded blue.
It will also safeguard ancient oaks which support more life than any other native UK tree species, from badgers to jays as well as from stag beetles to deer, bats to woodpeckers.
Despite the densely packed plantations, the dawn chorus at Horse Common is already amazing, says Richard.
He said: “If you are here between, say, 5am and 6am, there’s a real cacophony of noise.
“Dawn is when the males are proclaiming their territories to the females.
“They are saying I am here, I am healthy, I am fit and I have a good territory with lots of food.
“They sing at dawn because the light is not good enough for predators such as goshawks to locate them. But after sunrise they are on the predators’ radar so they tend to sing less.”
Richard, who is devising the long-term plan for Horse Common, said: “The first birds to sing are usually robins, song thrushes and blackbirds.
“They are joined by chaffinches, with goldfinches passing through.
“We also have summer visitors such as the chiffchaff, which gets its name from its two-note song, blackcaps and redstarts.
“You can also hear the drumming of the lesser spotted woodpecker which has suffered serious declines nationally as well as most of the tit species such as great tit, blue tit and coal tit.”
But if the RSPB gets the chance to restore Horse Common to its natural, wilder state, the dawn chorus should become louder.
It hopes in about 10 years’ time to have restored enough heathland to attract the Dartford Warbler, which signs its scratchy song from gorse bushes.
Also on the wishlist is the lapwing, whose wild “peewit” call could be heard over the restored mires and wet grassland.
And the top prize would be the return of another bird in serious decline, nature’s supreme singer, the nightingale.
Richard said the dawn chorus makes him feel glad to be alive.
He said: “It makes me feel like I made the right choice in life to end up working in nature conservation. For all the hassles that any job brings, it makes you feel it is worthwhile.
“Especially during lockdown when people have got out and heard the dawn chorus, they feel that despite everything it is still a wonderful world.
“And we have to do everything we can to hang on to it.”
• You can help secure this part of the historic New Forest for wildlife forever as part of the Daily Express Make More Space for Nature campaign.
To help raise funds for the RSPB to buy and rewild this precious plot of land please send cheques made payable to “RSPB” to Daily Express Horse Common Appeal, RSPB, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG19 2DL or donate here.
There is another option which would let you raise money just by using your mobile phone.
If you switch your mobile sim card to an Ecotalk + RSPB sim, the RSPB will receive donations every month for as long as you remain a customer.
All the profits are invested in nature and have already helped the RSPB secure the Fairburn Tips in Yorkshire.
You can keep your current number.
To raise money with the Ecotalk + RSPB sim, please go here.
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