The dawn chorus

Sedge Warbler  Pic: Nicholas Mitchell

by Nicholas Mitchell

You may remember that our article in the February edition was about that being a good time to start listening to and learning the birdsong of our resident birds, such as Blackbird, Song Thrush, Great Tit and so on. If you have been out and about and learnt a few of their songs, then you may have noticed some new ones during these last few weeks as spring migrants have started arriving in Ireland all the way from Africa. Prominent amongst these songsters will be Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat. As a result, the sound of birdsong at dawn has already become more varied and louder, and this only increases as we move into May.

For this very reason, every year in mid-May, the Branch hosts a dawn chorus event. This year it will be on Sunday, May 14 and we are grateful to the owners of Liss Ard Estate, for allowing us to hold it there. We held our last dawn chorus event at Liss Ard in 2014, so it’s great to be back at this wonderful venue. 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 new Chairperson, Jez Simms. The entrance gate to Liss Ard is outside Skibbereen on the Castletownsend Road and there will be people on hand to direct you to the parking area. We will start on the lawn in front of the house. 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 take an amble through the woods and meadow, stopping often to pick out different songs and learn more about individual bird species. The walk will mainly be on hard surface paths, but sturdy footwear is recommended, as is warm clothing. The walk will last an hour or so and there will be refreshments afterwards.

Branch News

Upcoming outings:

Sunday, May 14: Dawn Chorus at Liss Ard Estate, Skibbereen

Sunday, June 11: Walk at Castle Donovan to ‘George the Sky’

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

FB @BirdWatchIrelandWestCork

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WCP Staff

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