Monday, June 19, 2006

Dawn Chorus Chronologies

Earlier this month I managed to experience the phenomenon of the Dawn Chorus in three different area of the British Isles; Kindrogan in Perthshire, Dean Castle Country Park in Ayrshire, and Sunny Hill Park in London. Although this was over a period of one week, you would still expect the dawn chorus to be later in Southern England due to the effects of latitude. The light of the dawn appears first in north-east Scotland, sweeping across the Britain and taking around one hour to reach south-west England at this time of year. It is know that light and testosterone are the two main factors controlling bird song. Song has the dual function of mate attraction and territorial defence. For the past four years at Kindrogan, I’ve been recording the first instances of song burst for each species at dawn and it appears to be remarkably consistent from year to year. You could set your watch by the Wood Pigeons there!

I decided to try it elsewhere. For convenience, this happened to be the nearest suitable areas after returning from Kindrogan on the 9th. The three areas cannot really be directly compared due to several variables:

i. The Kindrogan site comprises forest edge/parkland habitat and light penetrates easily.
ii.. The site in Dean Country Park comprises a lot of Beach tree cover and therefore it is quite dark in the wood.
iii. Light pollution at the London site means it does not get as dark as it should and in fact Robins sing all night under the street lamps!

Kindrogan, Perthshire 56 42N, 3 44W
1. Cuckoo 0303h
2. Robin 0309h
3. Blackbird 0312h
4. Spotted Flycatcher 0327h
5. Garden Warbler 0330h
6. Goldcrest 0337h
7. Wren 0340h
8. Willow Warbler 0342h
9. Treecreeper 0352h
10. Blackcap 0353h
11 Chaffinch 0353h

Dean Castle Country Park, Ayrshire 55 37N, 4 29W
1. Song Thrush 0320h
2. Robin 0334

3. Blackbird 0340h
4. Wren 0340h
5. Goldcrest 0411h
6. Chaffinch 0425h
7. Great Tit 0454h

Sunny Hill Park, London 51 30N, 0 3W
1. Song Thrush 0324h
2. Blackbird 0327h
3. Robin 0335h
4. Wren 0346h
5. Chaffinch 0424h
6. Great Tit 0428h

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