Dawn Chorus: Waking up with wildlife
Chris Skinner proves that the early bird does catch the worm as he goes in search of Norfolk's dawn chorus. He explains why the early morning wake-up call is part of our natural heritage and should be cherished.
Chris prepares to record the dawn chorus
Norfolk's beautiful woodland and rolling countryside is the natural habitat of bird and nature enthusiast Chris Skinner.
High Ash Farm is Chris' home, two miles south of Norwich at Caistor St Edmund. A working farm, half of the land was set aside for wildlife crops in 2007 and today provides a haven for birds, insects and other wildlife.
Chris was born at the farm and spent many hours out in the garden, it was here that his love affair with nature began. In later life he became friends with Ted Ellis, the acclaimed Norfolk conservationist.
In the middle of 30 acres of woodland at High Ash Farm is where Norfolk's dawn chorus was recorded during the first week of April 2008.
The dawn chorus happens early in the morning throughout the year but it is more noticeable between March and June when many of the birds are trying to attract a mate or defend their breeding territory.
Having spent many years recording the dawn chorus, Chris knows that the environment can affect it.
"The weather has a big impact on the strength, the length and the timing of the dawn chorus," he said.
Chris is very passionate about the environment in which we live and is increasingly protective as he learns more about nature.
"To me, our heritage is our birds, the trees and our whole environment," he said.
"When you fall in love with something, you become very protective over it. That's how I feel about our countryside."
"We should live with our environment, working with it. Not against it. To lose the dawn chorus would be the biggest crime of all.
"The earth which we live on is very delicate. Our dawn chorus that we can hear and the songs which the birds sing are so beautiful and natural, yet we play artificial music all the time, in our cars and our homes," he added.
Chris makes a recording at his bird hide
Medley of sounds
The purpose built hide in the woodland on Chris' farm is the perfect location to tuck yourself away and take in the sounds and sights of the countryside as it awakes.
Like all living creatures, different birds thrive in different environments and the range of birds heard in Caistor St Edmund's dawn chorus can differ from the dawn chorus near to Norfolk's coast.
"At High Ash farm it's common to hear blackbirds, crows, cock pheasants, a pair of wrens who are roosting in a hollow tree nearby, the odd robin and on this occasion even a French partridge," said Chris.
"It's a wonderful medley of sounds."
Chris modestly confesses that he's still learning things about our environment every day and is keen to share his interest with the public.
Opening five kilometres of pathways through his farm to members of the public is Chris' way of giving people the opportunity to learn about the variety of wildlife we have on our doorstep.
last updated: 11/04/2008 at 16:50