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Dawn Chorus walk from the campsite

This morning I got up at 4:30am to light a small campfire in The Hide in preparation for our first dawn chorus walk at the Secret Campsite, hosted by Charlie Peverett.

Birdsong Academy

Charlie is a bird expert and runs Birdsong Academy  where you can learn more about the lives and songs of our native avian friends.

Lighting the fire and putting the kettle on

It was pitch black when i started lighting the little campfire. But, the light started to appear over the neighbouring woods as the guests arrived at reception for their early morning cuppa.

dawn chorus walk briefing

Many of the attendees had stayed the night over in the camping meadow, which made for a much easier start to their day.

When do the birds start singing

We located to The Hide where Charlie explained the birds we might hear and which birds are the first to start singing. The singing is their way of asserting a territorial claim and luring a mate into their space. But singing comes at a risk. You reveal your location to any would be predators lurking in the area

Apparently, its all down to  eye size, which of the birds start singing first.

The bigger the birds eyes, the more chance of it spotting a predatory owl or sparrowhawk hunting in the murky dawn light. Its really important to get as much warning as possible and bigger eyes collect more light which really helps.

Walking the old railway track listening for birds

We started off listening and identifying bird song as we sat around the fire. What a fantastic start to be hearing a Nightingale a few metres away in some scrub. We heard Wrens, Tawny owls, a Song Thrush and then set off to the camping meadow, where we listened to Coal Tits, Jays, and thrushes singing from the woods.

From the camping meadow we walked out onto the old railway and heard more Nightingales, just feet away and we were lucky to see a small Muntjac deer crossing the path a few metres in front..

As the day evolves, singing starts to become a secondary priority replaced by feeding. As a result, the cacophony of noise starts to die down. A chance to get back to sleep, if you’re camping.

Post dawn chorus walk Fika at the secret campsite

The Swedish art of Fika

Once the walk was over we returned to the revitalised campfire and enjoyed Fika. This Swedish custom involves time spent enjoying coffee and pastries. In our case these were delicious cinnamon buns, made by Maria Greenwood, from The Hubbery cafe. You can order pastries for your very own Fika, from Maria, for collection on Fridays.

We chatted around the fire as we enjoyed the pastries and coffee and put together a list of over 26 birds that we had heard.

It was a fantastic walk and a few of the guests nipped off for some wild swimming to round off their Scandinavian Gokotta experience in the Sussex countryside.

Gokotta is a Swedish word that describes the joy of rising early to experience the stillness of the air and the beauty of nature, particularly Birdsong.

Here goes with our haul as diligently recorded by Charlie: Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Wren, Song Thrush, Nightingale, Dunnock, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Woodpigeon, Raven, Jay, Magpie, Blackcap, Robin, Chiff Chaff, Goldcrest, Mistle Thrush, Carrion Crow, Tawny Owl, Pheasant, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Greylag, Chaffinch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Stock Dove.

Our next Gokotta event is on the 10th May and you can book tickets with Birdsong Academy and make it easy on yourself by booking a nights camoping the night before. We start at 5:00am