Have a go at… being up with the larks at Creswell Crags
Can you hear the difference between a chiffchaff and a chaffinch? Early risers and morning larks were recently called on by Verdant Wildlife and Creswell Crags to enjoy nature’s finest orchestra; the dawn chorus.
With alarm clocks set for 5:30am, a group of bright-eyed birders joined nature enthusiast Andrew Whitelee of Verdant Wildlife down in the gorge at Creswell Crags for a dawn chorus walk on Sunday 12 May.
A place of scientific interest and with conservation work firmly in place, Creswell Crags provides the perfect habitat for both migratory and native songbirds. With thriving woodland and craggy crevices in which to hide, the gorge has been home to many species of birds for thousands of years.
Just like migratory man, who once journeyed to Creswell during the summer months, birds too come to nest at this local natural wonder, bringing with them a variety of melodic sounds, which Andrew helped to identify during the hour long ramble.
The dawn chorus walk with Verdant Wildlife took visitors through lush spring woodland, and around the open lake of the gorge, to discover different species and song.
Over 30 species of birds were recorded during an hour’s walk, from the familiar mallard to a pair of uncommon bullfinch. Andrew was on hand to distinguish the different calls (of which there are three; alarm, contact and mating) of each bird to help visitors identify them on their next visit to the gorge.
Using a mix of science and self-taught technique, Andrew demonstrated a variety of calls, and gave the audience tips on how to know what to listen out for.
Many bird names are derived from the calls they make, from the ‘chack’ of the Jackdaw, to the ‘chiff-chaff’ of the aptly-named, chiffchaff.
Although many of the birds were identified only by song, some came out to show their feathers including the bullfinch, a willow warbler and of course, the resident mute swan.
Stopping at various points on the tour, gave everyone the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere, and listen as the bird calls carried over the water from one side of the gorge to the other.
Not only did the walk provide a fascinating insight into local nature, but gave visitors the chance to enjoy the splendour of the Crags gorge on a fresh spring morning.
There are undoubtedly more tours such as this in the pipeline, but until then, take a moment on your next rural ramble in Notts to listen to nature’s soundtrack, and see how many species you can spot. Share your birding stories with us on our Facebook or Twitter pages.
For more wildlife watching, you can join Verdant Wildlife on bespoke tours of Nottinghamshire. Creswell Crags also have a busy summer programme, from a vintage fair this weekend, to enjoying outdoor theatre under the stars.