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Up with the robin

‘Why get out of bed to hear the dawn chorus? You could just open the window wide and stay in bed.’ This was well-meaning advice from a friend but it missed the point.

Unless you get out of bed, at around 3.45am, put on enough layers for an Arctic expedition, pour scalding water into flasks (for hot chocolate) and creep out of your house so as not to wake the dog or, worse, next door’s dog, then you’re simply not trying! 

 And it’s worth it, to be out there, in Portmoak Moss, for the full immersive experience. 

That’s what 9 of us decided on Sunday, 7th May, as Portmoak Community Woodland Group celebrated International Dawn Chorus Day, led by two of our members, Stuart Garvie and Stuart Byers. 

We met at 4.30am, just as the first robins began to sing, and we walked around for more than 2 hours, until we’d identified at least 20 different songs and calls. There were the true songsters,  like the song thrush and the garden and willow warblers; and the rhythm section - the relentless chiffchaff, repeating its own name and the great tit, shouting ‘teacher, teacher’.

 As the light crept in, bird after bird joined the chorus, until we had a surround-sound cacophony, under-pinned by an occasional, unexpected ‘woo’ from a distant tawny owl. 

Last to make an appearance was a green woodpecker and when these ‘yafflers’ start laughing at you, it’s definitely time for breakfast. As we left, there were brown hares still ‘courried down’, sleeping between the furrows in a neighbouring field and a red squirrel beginning the day’s business. 

It was magic.



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Portmoak Moss - Woodland Trust

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