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Cawthorne Dawn Chorus May 1st 2010

notes by Marian Tierney, pictures by Heather Tabor

I was ripped untimely from my bed to join a hushed 5.00am gathering to listen to the early movers and shakers. Eight Ryenats members and two guests were already too late to hear the announcer blackbird. Mingling in, and at the top of the register (and tree) were goldcrests with chaffinch, coal tit and warblers – blackcap or garden was a point for discussion. Sheep provided the bass line. A great tit was singing a different song from its trademark “teacher teacher” call. With no thoughts at all of confusing us, birds can vary their song according to season and circumstance. This newly acquired piece of knowledge prompted growing despair of song recognition so I appreciate being in the company of those who can.

Beyond the wood on the Roman camp site I was reflecting on a sign which obviously said “Octavius woz ere” when a gasp of delight from Janet took me skywards to a tree pipit parachuting back to base. This was a splendid aerial display by the male pipit to knock the ladies for six, repeated over and over at increasing altitude from which he floated heartstoppingly down. There was debate between Tom and Jim on distinguishing tree from meadow pipit. The clincher is the length of hind claws, short in tree, long in meadow – a point visible only to a ringer. So the birds we observed among the grasses with their beautiful camouflage streaked breasts were probably meadow, but not necessarily.

The sun was up when we looked out from the edge of the scarp over the rise of the moors and returned through the woodland in its luxuriant cycle through new growth to lush decay.

And so to breakfast. Thank you Tom for the morning call.

Bird list

From Jim Pewtress:
Robin (s)
Goldcrest (s)
Chaffinch (s)
Coal Tit (s)
Wren (s)
Great Tit (s)
Garden Warbler (s)
Willow Warbler (s)
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Tree Pipit (s)
Mistle Thrush (s)
Meadow Pipit
Song Thrush (s)
Blue Tit
Willow/Marsh Tit

(s) = singing

[Ed: We are delighted to include Heather Tabor’s photos, which are in a rather different style from our usual shots of particular species; these very atmospheric pictures give a real sense of the light and “feel” of the morning; thank you, Heather.]

© Ryedale Natural History Society 2010; photos © Heather Tabor 2010 Back to the Home page