What a difference two or three weeks makes. Suddenly blossoms are filling our waysides, parks and gardens instead of incessant rain and floods. Better still, rather than skulking and scuttling for shelter, the birds are singing in the build up to the breeding season. This being so here is a heads-up for International Dawn Chorus Day (IDCD) on 4 May, an event celebrating the glory of this daily free concert.
Everybody can take part, whatever their circumstances. The birdsong is delivered free to your street, so even if you cannot get out of the house you can just open your windows and doors. Alone or with friends, in your garden, local nature reserve, park or holiday home the birds will oblige. The earlier you can listen the better. Most magical of all is to be awake in the hour before dawn (sunrise is about 5am on 4 May). You will be enthralled as the silence is broken by first one songbird, than another, until, as more birds join in, the air is filled with their music. Here in the West Midlands you are likely to hear, amongst others, blackbirds, wrens, song thrushes, robins, dunnocks, chiffchaffs, willow warblers and chaffinches.
Simple but beautiful, IDCD was devised in Birmingham by doughty green campaigner, the late Joy Fifer, in the 80s. Joy by name, joyful by nature she is commemorated in Moseley Bog's 'Joy's Wood'. No one could have been better named for thinking up such a wonderful event. She realised that people all over the world, in town, country and remote wilderness, could share this wonderful experience. People have indeed participated in, amongst other countries, Belize, Malawi, Eire, Germany, Ireland, South Africa and the USA.
The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, of which Joy was a leading member, continues to promote and organise IDCD. (Trust President David Bellamy once had to make do with the rather muted sounds of penguins in Antarctica.) They and others are organising events, some including breakfasts. Check out the IDCD website ( http://www.idcd.info/ ) nearer the date for these. Better still organise your own breakfast and birdsong barbecue and let the Wildlife Trust know. On the day share your experiences with others on Twitter - hashtag #idcd.