BBC Radio Ulster presenter Annie-Marie McAleese and Dr Kendrew Colhoun from the RSPB will be going live on International Dawn Chorus Day (Sunday 1 May) as they link up with radio colleagues in RTÉ and across Europe to celebrate this ornithological opera.
Following from the success of last year’s link-up, Anne-Marie will once again be joining RTÉ’s Derek Mooney and, in addition this year, several other broadcasters from across Europe live on air throughout the night – including Radio Russia, NRK Norway, and BBC Radio 4.
Presenter Anne-Marie, along with Dr Colhoun, Senior Conservation Scientist with the RSPB, will be at Tollymore National Outdoor Centre, outside Newcastle, in County Down.
This year’s Dawn Chorus programme runs from midnight until 7am offering listeners the chance to hear some fascinating conversation about the nature of birdsong, and the wonder of the chorus itself as our avian friends wake up across Europe.
Anne-Marie McAleese said: “One thing’s for sure, it’s going to get very noisy as the birds hit their morning crescendo! And it’s just so exciting to once again be involved in this radio extravaganza – a cross border joining of broadcasting hands, with people and birds.
“However this isn’t just a dawn chorus on these shores – we’re also linking up with countries right across Europe – so I’m thinking of it like a Eurovision Song Contest for our feathered friends. Join us from midnight on Saturday when the race is on to see who will be the first to tweet - and where!”
Dr Kendrew Colhoun added: “RSPB NI is delighted to once again be involved with the BBC’s all-night dawn chorus broadcast, this year coming from Tollymore Forest. We can’t wait to hear which birds put on the best concert!”
During the broadcast it is hoped listeners will be treated to everything from the Nightingale at The Mokbaai in The Netherlands, the Capercaillie at Voss in Norway, the Finch at Sparrow Hills in Moscow and the Bittern at Ham Hall in England, and - last but not least - the star species in Northern Ireland this year, the Great Spotted Woodpecker of County Down.
Up until 10 years ago we had none of the Great Spotted Woodpecker species living in Ireland. However along the east coast there is now evidence of breeding pairs drumming their way through forests - including County Down.
A striking black and white colour, both male and female woodpeckers create this noise by striking their beaks repeatedly against a rotten or hollow branch, which acts as a sounding board.
They don’t sing like most birds, so a quick ‘drum roll’ is their way to tell rival birds that this territory is taken. So, if you go down to the woods today and hear their distinctive noise you know you are witnessing the return of a very welcome visitor to our shores!