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Science
THE LIVING WORLD
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Sunday 06:35-07:00
The Living World is a gentle weekend natural history programme, presented by Lionel Kelleway, which aims to broadcast the best, most intimate encounters with British wildlife.
nhuradio@bbc.co.uk
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Listen to 25 June
PRESENTER
LIONEL KELLEWAY
Lionel Kelleway
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Sunday 25 June 2006
Lionel Kelleway and Pete Short
Lionel Kelleway and RSPB warden Pete Short enjoy a dawn chorus in England's largest tidal reed bed

Dawn in a Reed Bed 

Lionel Kelleway travels to Blacktoft Sands, an RSPB reserve in East Yorkshire, to enjoy a very special spring dawn chorus.

Blacktoft Sands, situated on the Humber estuary, is the largest tidal reedbed in England and is important for its breeding bearded tits, marsh harriers and bitterns.

Also found here, is the largest concentration of reed warblers and reed buntings in northern England. In addition, the reserve has several saline lagoons, which are rare in Europe and an ideal habitat for a variety of breeding and migrant waders, including avocets. There's also a grazing marsh which is important for wintering ducks and breeding waders and the willow scrub provides food and nest sites for tree sparrows and whitethroats.

After wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson set up microphones amongst the reeds on the previous evening, RSPB Reserve Warden Pete Short and Lionel Kelleway make their way in the dark towards one of the reserve's hides to await the first notes of the dawn chorus. But even before they settle into the hide, they hear the raucous calls of black-headed gulls and the piping notes of avocets on one of the lagoon islands in front of the hide.

As night gives way to day, Pete introduces the soloists including a heron, gadwall and ruddy ducks, and then later reed and sedge warblers, reed buntings and bearded tits.

As the first rays of dawn flood across the reserve, Lionel and Pete move out of the hide and into the reserve, where the unmistakeable harsh, ratchety songs of reed and sedge warbler fill the air, in this atmospheric and unusual early morning chorus.
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