Dawn Chorus Day: listen to birdsong
Enjoy the sounds of the chiffchaff and reed warbler with Time Out's birdsong sound board
Every morning, London's feathered inhabitants try to outdo each other with their mating calls, creating an aural landscape of frenzied chirps and tweets. Click on the images below to hear the distinctive calls that contribute to the dawn chorus. Play around with the sounds and see if you can recognise them out and about in the city.
Pictures courtesy of Rosemary Green, Sam Rowley, James Lees and Nick Cottrell
One place that's full of birdsong is the London Wetland Centre in Barnes. If you're a human, it's a wonderful place to duck out of the clamour and cacophony of London for a while – an escape into a haven of calm and natural peace. If you’re a bird, it’s about as buzzing and happening as London gets – the city’s hottest ticket, thanks to its 43 hectares of pristine habitats and its protected status. You have to get up early in the morning to experience the tumult of all this avian excitement at full pelt, though. Stupidly early. The gates will open on Saturday May 12 at 4.30am for the centre’s annual Dawn Chorus Day experience, but there’s never any shortage of takers for this highly popular event.
This is the peak time of year for the dawn chorus, because the centre has a mixture of two types of birds all singing at the same time. The resident breeding birds, who stay there the whole year, are joined by the migrating birds that winter in Africa and come to the UK to breed. The classic migrants are the blackcaps, reed warblers, willow warblers and sedge warblers – they’ve flown a long way to be here and they need to set up a territory and find a mate as soon as possible.
The natives have been welcoming the sun and advertising their wares since January but now the tourists are arriving they’re having to up their game. The earliest risers – generally robins, wrens and thrushes, including blackbirds – are resident birds aiming to establish their sexual prowess in the quiet of the early dawn, so they are the ones you’ll hear first in the early morning. This get-in-first instinct is also why you’ll often hear birds singing at night in London – they’re not simply confused by street lighting (though that may be a factor) but are often choosing to sing when there’s not so much traffic to drown them out.