Thirty-five hardy souls arrived at Lough Hyne at 4.30 am last Sunday morning, all hoping to enjoy a dawn chorus to remember. As we gathered in the growing light, the initial signs weren’t good as no birds could be heard. However, the weather was good and with a relatively light wind, the signs were hopeful.
We needn’t have worried though. We hadn’t gone more than 200m from the car park when the first Blackbird began to sing. Soon he was joined by numerous other Blackbirds, singing behind us, to the side and also in front. The woods around Lough Hyne were not going to disappoint.
As we continued to walk along the western side of the lake, we came on to a more open area where a large garden provided a natural amphitheatre. Here the Blackbirds were joined by Robin and Song Thrush, providing a good opportunity for people to hear the difference in these three common songsters. With its repeated phrases, the Song Thrush lived up to the old saying that ‘the wise old Song Thrush says everything twice’. As if to punctuate the musicians in the Dawn Chorus, Hooded Crow and Pheasant added their own unique contributions.
Continuing along the road, we added the loud, explosive Wren and a musical if more distant Blackcap. A roost of Hooded Crows threatened to drown out everything else for a short time, although the repetitive Chiffchaff made itself heard above the Crows.
By now it was light enough to see out over the lake and to identify a few birds flying over the water’s surface. A small group of people were also lucky enough to spot an Otter swimming in the lake.
Continuing along the road, an obliging Song Thrush sang from the top of the tree right above our heads, giving everyone a great view. It did, however, make it difficult to make out a distant Whitethroat that was singing in scrub away to the east. As we reached the end of the walk out, we picked up Goldcrest in a group of conifers, with its very thin, high pitched call, along with Coal and Great Tits and the lovely cascading song of Willow Warbler.
At this stage, the promise of tea, coffee and biscuits proved irresistible and we made our way back to the car park. Just as we got close to the car park, the mammals decided it was their turn to put on a show with an Otter and a Seal both surfacing in the same area. The Otter turned out to be very obliging and was continued to be seen by people as they enjoyed their very welcome cup of tea.
In the end, we notched up a total of 27 bird species, and no, Lough Hyne didn’t disappoint, it was a memorable Dawn Chorus.
A big thank you to everyone for turning out of the beds so early and to all those who arranged the tea and coffee, and especially to Laura and Karl for providing cakes.
Full Bird list
- Hooded Crow
- Song Thrush
- Herring Gull
- Grey Heron
- Great Black-backed Gull
- Mute swan
- Willow Warbler
- Coal Tit
- Blue Tit
- Great Tit
- Lesser Black-backed Gull