Birdsong across the world: Dawn Chorus a morning of delights!

Birdsong across the world: Dawn Chorus a morning of delights!

On Sunday 19th May, two groups on opposite sides of the globe woke up before dawn and took a stroll through their local bush, seeking birds of any description and their calls.

National Dawn Chorus Day is an Emerald Isle institution thanks to BirdWatch Ireland. Through connections developed by Irish naturalist Chris Wilson and the South East’s own Bryan Haywood of ForestrySA, this year was the first time that the Day stretched over the oceans to our part of the world, hosted by BirdLife South East SA, ForestrySA and Nature Glenelg Trust.

One of the 2013 Irish Dawn Chorus events that happened on Sunday. Chris Wilson has his back to us with the backpack on.

So why would you wake up so early on a Sunday morning to go stand in the pre-dawn cold? Just over 30 other people agreed in saying ‘why not!?’ when they travelled to Snow Gum Native Forest Reserve south of Mount Gambier in the Caroline Forest, for a starry night that transformed into a perfect morning full of beautiful birdsong, and no rain.

The 2013 South East SA Dawn Chorus. Notice the difference in vegetation compared to our Irish counterparts above.

We were paid for our efforts in spades, with Australia’s largest owl, the Powerful Owl, calling before we even started, continuing to call throughout the walk. Some of the group were lucky enough to even see one fly in and out of a tree at the meeting point.

Participants were further rewarded with a cooked BBQ breakfast. The setting for the campfire and display of all things birds was simply stunning, and we kept on hearing birds as we socialised and ate.

Enjoying a cooked brekkie and warmth of the campfire

A number of participants joined Bryan for an unsuccessful search later in the morning around the camp for a roosting Powerful Owl, although we found loads of interesting fungi that we’ll show Pam from the Adelaide Fungal Studies Group when she’s down for the Life in the Deadwood events.

Eyes up as we look unsuccessfully for a roosting Powerful Owl

In total, 26 bird species were recorded, including the rare Bassian Thrush , the state endangered Powerful Owl, White-eared Honeyeater, Eastern Yellow Robin, Common Blackbird*, White-throated Tree-creeper, Brown Thornbill, White-browed Scrub-wren, Superb Fairy-wren, Galah, Forest Raven, Grey Currawong, Spotted Pardalote, Silvereye, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Crimson Rosella, Grey Fantail, Grey Shrike-thrush, Blue-winged Parrot, Golden Whistler, Striated Thornbill, Australian Magpie and Laughing Kookaburra to name a few. Not a bad haul considering Spring, when it’s breeding season, is the best time to hear the full breadth of a dawn chorus.

Bob Green reading out the impressive bird list we collected

Initial reports indicate that our Irish counterparts had just as much success. A big thank you to all the BirdLife SE SA volunteers who helped with bird ID; ForestrySA; Bryan Haywood; Mark and Toby for the BBQ; Sharn; Bob Green and Chris Wilson.

Please remember that to drive in Native Forest Reserves you need a permit, which is easily obtained by contacting ForestrySA, Jubilee Highway East, Mount Gambier.

Big thanks to BirdLife SA SE, ForestrySA and everyone else for a great morning out!


Becky McCann