Radio: international dawn chorus day

4th May 2001 at 01:00

This Sunday, for the first time, anybody with a radio will be able to hear the dawn chorus from around the world for themselves. For BBC Radio 4 is celebrating International Dawn Chorus Day with four hours of programmes devoted to animal sounds, birdsong in particular.

Listeners will be able to tune in as dawn breaks around the planet, from 5.48am with the great reed warbler in Sweden to 11.31pm with a chorus of marsh frogs in Russia (it's not only birds that awake with a song in their heart).

The day's full-length programmes begin at 6.35am with Tyneside Dawn, in which leading wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson presents a portrait of daybreak in his home town of Newcastle.

Nature is alive and singing in cities. It's a point that is echoed by Chris Baines, who was instrumental in setting up the first International Dawn Chorus Day in 1983, and who presents one of the day's highlights, a programme called Why Do Birds Sing?.

Baines travelled with Watson to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in New York State to hear the sounds of the 220-acre Sapsucker Woods wildlife sanctuary, and to talk to researchers about their extraordinary findings. There he learned how elephants use low-frequency soundwaves to communicate over 200 miles, how antelopes use their hearing to predict floods and how female songbirds select a mate according to how skilfully he executes those fancy trills at daybreak.

But, he says: "I couldn't wait to get back to my little garden in Wolverhampton and to hear it differently. The quality of the dawn chorus in Britain is particularly good because we have a mixture, in our gardens particularly, of open-space and woodland species."

  • Our picture shows a great reed warbler, subject of Bill Oddie's 5.48am slot
    • Radio 4 , May 6
      6.35-7.00am Tyneside Dawn
      1.30-2.00pm Why Do Animals Sing?
      2.45-3.00pm Sound Advice
      2.45-3.00pm Poetry Please
      5.40-6.00pm Up With The Bark
      7.02-7.15pm The Archers
      8.02-8.30pm Music To Our Ears
      12.15-12.45am Global Sunrise

      The World Awakes , 40-second items introduced by Bill Oddie
      5.48am Great reed warbler, Sweden
      7.10am Great northern diver, Greenland
      8.44am Musician wren, Brazil
      9.59am Giant otters, Venezuela
      12.33pm Brown thrasher, US
      4.31pm Trumpeter swans, Alaska
      7.02pm Tui birds, New Zealand
      9.02pm Birds of paradise, Papua New Guinea
      11.31pm Marsh frog chorus, Russia

      A longer version of this feature appears in this week's TES Friday magazinenbsp;

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