An audience for the dawn chorus

While the Bank Holiday weekend may have signalled a welcome opportunity to catch up on sleep for some of us, for a stalwart group of Darwinians it was a chance to experience the hidden rewards of early rising.

To mark International Dawn Chorus Day, promoted by the Wildlife Trust and held on the first Sunday of May each year, 15 members of the College joined the Master, Dr Mike Rands, to see in the dawn in the Darwin gardens, while listening to the extraordinarily varied symphony of bird life which makes its home there.

As a conservation biologist who was instrumental in the creation of BirdLife International, which he led for 13 years, Mike has taken pride and delight in the diversity of Darwin’s birds since his appointment as Master. His birdwatching tours of the garden were a popular feature of last summer’s Families Day, but the 4.30am meeting time meant this Sunday’s event naturally attracted a select few. Nevertheless, students, staff, Fellows and their families were all well represented among the group, who spent an hour and half identifying the soloists as the sun rose.

Participants heard a total of 20 species of bird, as well as spotting two types of gull which remained noiseless. Highlights included a tawny owl, a great spotted woodpecker, which was nesting, and a goldcrest. The group concluded their early morning adventures with coffee and pastries in the Parlour.

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