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Virtual Dawn Chorus: Mass Participation

3rd May 2020 @ 5:00 am - 6:00 am


For the last few years I’ve organised a birdsong identification workshop, taught by the brilliant Peter Holden MBE, renowned ornithologist and author of the RSPB handbook. After a day of learning, we meet the following morning to experience the dawn chorus together, and test our recognition of birdsong.

It’s always a wonderful experience, but as we’re all following social distancing measures, we won’t be meeting in person this year.


Instead, on National Dawn Chorus Day Sunday 3rd May at 5am, let’s each audio record our local dawn chorus, wherever we are.  Whether you’re recording in your garden, from out of an apartment window, or in the midst of a forest.

In these extraordinary times, we can draw strength from the exquisite nature which surrounds us. The birds’ enchanting expression of spring is particularly powerful and our sharing of this experience, reminds us that we are – and always will be – connected.

What is a dawn chorus?
It’s when the birds begin to sing at the break of a new day.  In springtime their song is particularly potent, as it’s all about defending territory and finding new mates. The magic happens when the silence is broken by the first song, which builds to a magnificent chorus. 

When will it happen?
National Dawn Chorus Day, Sunday 3rd May.  Sunrise is around 5:30am, so we advise that you  prepare to record from around 4:45am to 5:00am, at the latest.

How will it work?
Use the recording device on your phone and send the mp3 file to scarlettofthefae@gmail.com clearly noting your permission to share the audio, a name if you want us to include it, and most importantly, remember to tell us where you are recording from. I’ll upload it to Soundcloud

How large should the audio file be?

The chorus builds from one song to many over around half an hour, but a large file will be difficult to send and upload.  Please send me a short clip of no more than 1 minute – maybe your favourite highlight! You may, if you wish, within the end of the minute describe your experience in just a few words.

Can anyone take part?

Yes!  Anyone and everyone is welcome to take part, wherever you live and wherever you are recording from.

Will the audio be sharable and accessible to the public?

Yes, all the audio you share will be open to the public and you’ll be able to share each recording, or the whole collection if you like!

Do I need to give permission to share the audio?

Yes, because it’s going to be open to the public. When you email us with your recording, please do remember to state in writing that you give your full permission for the recording to be uploaded and made public.

What sort of audio file do I need to send?
Please send an MP3 file if you can but here’s some other types which SoundCloud supports:  WAV, FLAC, AIFF, or ALAC, OGG, MP2, AAC, AMR, and WMA. But do ensure that it is no more than one minute long.

Will the recordings be bought or sold?
No, the recordings will remain freely available for everyone’s enjoyment.

I want to have a go at identifying the birdsong.  Are there any helpful links?
Yes indeed!  The Guardian recently published a helpful guide to common birdsong, with links to the RSPB app Giving Nature a Home (which is highly recommended and was also developed by Peter Holden MBE). And here’s a link to RSPB’s free birdsong radio.

Will you hold face-to-face workshops again?
Yes, we really hope so, as it’s always good fun and we learn so much from Peter, whether we’re beginners or experts! If you’d like to take part in the next workshop in Bristol, please contact me and I’ll add you to the mailing list.

Contact me for more details:

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3rd May 2020
5:00 am - 6:00 am


Jo Hickey-Hall

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