Dawn Chorus at Castle Espie

Dawn Chorus at Castle Espie

Up at the crack of dawn on a beautiful Sunday morning, I headed down to Castle Espie for my first dawn chorus.

Early morning birdsong has been on my to do list for quite a few years and with 2017 being my year to tick loads of things off that list, it was time to get up early and get out and enjoy nature.

Strangford Lough is one of my favourite areas, it’s beautiful! I’ve flown my drone over it, I’ve kayaked on it, I’ve spent my childhood on its shores. I guess I’m as comfortable enjoying nature as I am in the city.


Spring is the perfect opportunity to enjoy dawn chorus as birds travel in to Strangford from across the world, and set up for summer. Castle Espie is a hub of bird life and a great place to enjoy that early morning birdsong.

The group met Dot Blakely at 6.30 am for an initially not very picturesque walk around the car park, yet above us was the beautiful sound of the dawn chorus as morning broke and birds were waking up to sing. Apparently when then wake up they break in to song to announce, ‘we’ve survived the night, and we are awake, hello and good morning’.


Dot certainly knew her sounds and was able to point out the loud blackbirds, the Goldcrest, the Robin, Chaffinch, Wren, Tree Creeper, Black Cap. And she has her own description of their song.

The Robin song is ‘diddly dee’ He’s quite lazy and just sings diddly dee finishing with sticking his chest out….. who needs to sing when you can stick your fabulous red chest out

The Wren is a wee plain jobby with an attitude, and his song is distinct with a long machine gun sound in middle.

Chaffinch , it’s only the male that sings, apparently the female is too busy and his sound is .. pink pink

The Great tit goes doot do doot do doot

Cold tit sings weedgy weedgy weedgy

Then there’s the Black cap. The closest we have to a nightingale.

You can’t help but laugh at the descriptions but it really helped us as total birdsong amateurs to distinguish between the sounds.


Our walk was little over a mile and took an hour and a half around Castle Espie. Dot was a fountain of knowledge and quite the pleasure to listen to. The early morning was most definitely worth it.

What helped make it even more worthwhile was finishing the Dawn Chorus with a big fry in the Kingfisher restaurant, a restaurant with a fantastic view over Strangford Lough towards Strabo Tower. The restaurant is open to the public and it’s great value at less than £6 for a fry.

If you aren’t a Castle Espie member you can still use the soft play area and visit the Gallery and Sensory Garden free of charge.

www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/castle-espie/

Jeff x

If you fancy hearing some doot doot doot on an early morning chorus, here are a few more dates:

22nd April
Dawn Chorus, Castle Grounds Bangor. 5am- 6.30am Free.
Book Ph. 02891270069
E.mail bangorvic@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

6th May.
Dawn Chorus,
Kiltonia Ards. 5am- 6.30am Free
Book Ph. 02891826846
E.mail ardsvic@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk


Post Author: Belfast Times

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