Glenstal Dawn Chorus by William MacDonald Hughes

The Dawn Chorus

By William Mac Donald Hughes(First Year)

I awoke to the sound of singing birds at five o’clock. I proceeded downstairs to the incredible sounds of chirping singing birds. At around twenty past five Br.Kevin arrived and a few minutes later about ten students from different years began the walk down to the bridge beside the lake. We walked in silence listening to the incredible creatures. We then stopped at the bridge. Br.Kevin explained “all the birds are not signing for the sake of singing but they are talking to their own kind and telling each other that this is their patch and not to come near it”. We then stood in silence.

I in my life have been exposed to nature a lot and I have always loved birds the most.  I have heard  them many a time before but none quite like this. The cooing of the woodpigeon, the cackle of the magpie, the soft twittering of the robin and the murmured singing of the collective voice of the thrush.What a sound to hear. Suddenly a blackbird hopped up beside us as if to say ”hello and what might you be doing here”? It was a truly mesmerising sound.

After that Br.kevin explained which song belonged to which bird and described how each bird looked and told us of its qualities. He then went on to explain how the sparrowhawk times its hatching so as to catch the newborn of other species of birds and that the female blackbird is actually brown. He explained that the swallows had come in mid-march but that they might have gotten a surprise as it was colder than usual. He also told us how he had lived in a house near the grounds for three years and that during this time a fox came in every evening and that the two of them would sit on the floor while the fox ate out of his hand.

Suddenly, a huge rawcus emerged out of the trees and there was the sound of cackling. Br.Kevin said it was probably two magpies attacking the nest of another bird and that the magpie always made that noise to scare away the owner of a nest and then take the eggs. The cackling grew nearer until something suddenly leaped out of the bushes and darted to the other side of the path. Even in that short time I made out a long figure quite like a squirrel in appearance with a long bushy tail. It dashed accross the path and scrambled through the trees pursued closely by the magpies. Br.Kevin said it was a pine marten we were incredibly lucky to see this as I am sure not many have seen them before. Br.Kevin said that nature was like a war with each species battling to survive.

By now the sun was coming up and the birds were now no longer afraid to fly and began to do so. Br.Kevin said that the average bird flying through the trees goes at about 60kmph and that the fastest bird in ireland was the  falcon that flies at an incredible 300 kmph.

After that we started heading back up still listening to the birds singing. Upon reaching the ring we thanked Br .Kevin and headed inside. I think that this has been one of the best experiences that I have had since I arrived at Glenstal and I would like to give a huge thank you to Br. Kevin for sharing his incredible knowledge with us today.

Here is a You Tube video link of about a minute recording Br. Denis did of the Glenstal Dawn Chorus https://youtu.be/LHV5K3znKgA

The End