The dawn chorus

The arrival of spring migrants from their over-wintering grounds in Africa is well underway.   The morning birdsong chorus of our resident birds, such as Blackbird, Song Thrush, Great Tit has been joined by summer visitors like Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat. As we move into May, the volume and variety of the dawn chorus will steadily increase writes Nicholas Mitchell of Birdwatch Ireland, West Cork branch.

This is why, every year in mid-May, the Branch hosts a dawn chorus event. This year it will be on Sunday, May 12 and at a new venue. Given the early start for this event, we try to spread it around and hold it at different locations throughout West Cork. This time we will be at the western end of the county, on the Esk Mountain Estate outside Glengarriff, and we are grateful to the owners Kloe Wood and Adam Carveth for allowing us to hold it there. The event will start at 4:30am, so you’ll need to set your alarm clocks, but it’s worth the early rising, especially if you haven’t been to a dawn chorus event before. Everyone should experience this at least once in their lives, not just to enjoy the experience of being surrounded by birdsong as night flows into day, but to learn what birds are singing as the chorus fades and individual song becomes more prominent.

As with most of our outings this event is free of charge and open to everyone. The walk will be led by our Chairperson, Jez Simms. The entrance and parking is at the Botanical B&B, on the N71, 4.5 km north of Glengarriff. There will be people on hand to direct you to the parking area. It will still be dark when the first birds start to sing; probably a Wood Pigeon, Song Thrush or Blackbird (come and find out). The noise level will slowly build as the light changes and more birds join in. As dawn breaks, we will follow a foraging path up through mixed woodland, stopping often to pick out different songs and learn more about individual bird species. The walk will mainly be on woodchip paths, stone steps and boardwalks so sturdy footwear is recommended, as is warm clothing and, most importantly, midge repellent!.  The walk will last an hour or so and there will be breakfast baps and refreshments available to purchase afterwards.

Meeting details:

Botanical B&B P75 AW26 (look out for BirdWatch Ireland sign)

4:15am for 4:30am start. Unfortunately this event is not wheelchair friendly

BirdWatch Ireland West Cork Branch News:

Upcoming outings being held by the Branch are:

Sunday, May 12: Dawn Chorus at Esk Mountain Estate

Sunday, May 26: Cape Clear Island

Visit our website for more information about these events.  To receive news and reminders about our events join our mailing list by sending an email to For more information about the Branch, contact Fiona O’Neill at


Twitter @BWIWestCork

WCP Staff

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