Dawn Chorus – Part Six, Song Thrush / Geoff Sample

One of the best moments of my recent dawn chorus walks was coming across a Song Thrush that, apart from the odd interruption by a Blackbird, sang for well over half an hour. It was also pretty apparent that it was slightly down the pecking order as it ceased singing each time the Blackbird came along and dropped down a couple of feet from its high perch!

Pre the deepening blue sky of early morning
Before the Blackbird came the Song Thrush sang from the higher branches

It’s not as easy to hear the Song Thrush as it ever used to be as I remember from my early birdwatching years; Its population has crashed over the last 40 years by 76%. The morning started off rather dullish but brightened up to give a rich blue background which seemed to compliment the clarity and pureness of song.

On the arrival of a Blackbird the Song Thrush dropped lower and stopped singing

Its song is best described by Geoff Sample, who is seminal to the book I’m working on with my brother Mike, and has an astounding knowledge of bird song and a wonderful approach to bringing it to the public both in his many books and CDs on bird song and as a personal field guide taking groups to experience the dawn chorus.

Song Thrushes can be fairly quiet birds for much of the time, but males in song are audibly conspicuous. Song is heard occasionally through the Winter, but begins in earnest early in the new year, sometimes in January in southern regions. Song is loud, varied and with a distinct tendency for rhythmic repetition of phrases; often notes are short, clear and powerful, but can include high-pitched, wheezy warblings, especially as Summer comes on. Song can can be heard at any time of the day, frequently early and late, but often birds do not begin singing until the Blackbirds and Robins have been going for a little while and maybe the Wrens have started up.

Collins Field Guide to Bird Songs and Calls – Geoff Sample

I’ve been fortunate to have spent some time with Geoff up in his Northumberland home and also been on one of his early dawn chorus walks in which we are all given wireless headphones to be able to hear both the birds and Geoff’s gentle and rich commentary. It remains a highlight of my birdwatching experiences and one I hope to repeat in the not too distant future.

Geoff with the group at Brandon Lakes

A morning to savour with a real expert in the field



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