Titchwell Tick-list, April 18, 2017

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Those feathered alarm clocks are at it again defending their territories and singing to attract a mate.

The first refrains begin about an hour before sunrise while I am still ekeing out those last few minutes of slumber.

Among the early risers are skylarks, song thrushes, robins and blackbirds all keen to feast on a few berries or worms, proving that there may be some truth to the old saying.

Songbirds time their breeding season to the warmest part of the year, when there is plenty of food and lots of daylight in which to find it. As winter turns to spring, the lengthening daylight switches male songbirds into breeding mode.

As well as being part of their courtship ritual, males sing at this time of year to signal to other birds the boundaries of their ‘patch’.

Spring has so many virtues and listening to the harmonies of the dawn chorus is just one of them. In addition to experiencing a ‘sound portrait’ of nature, an early morning visit to a woodland area reveals a magic that only unfolds at daybreak. It’s possible to catch shy and elusive mammals as they begin their day foraging for food in the undergrowth.

Occasionally male deer that have been partying all night are caught out as daylight breaks through the treetops or young fox cubs may be seen emerging from their earthbound dens.

If you are interested in catching those beautiful avian melodies then it’s best to choose a day with fine clear weather and little wind. The air is often still on such mornings and with less background noise, bird song can carry up to twenty times as far. As the light strengthens, food becomes easier to find so hungry birds begin to move away and the chorus gradually diminishes. Time then to slip quietly away for a well-earned breakfast.

Why not join us at RSPB Titchwell Marsh on Sunday 23 April at 5 am and enjoy the magical awakening of the reserve at first light. Our expert guide will introduce you to a variety of bird song across the reserve with time to recap the morning’s melodies over a mini-continental breakfast.

However, if getting up at daybreak sounds too demanding there is another chorus at dusk, which is considered quieter, though some birds - like tree sparrows and blue tits – seem to prefer to sing at this time of day. It may simply be that we take less notice of it than the dawn chorus, when we are so keen to enjoy a few more moments in bed!

For more information and booking details of our dawn chorus walk go to www.rspb.org.uk/titchwellmarsh or call 01485 210779