Note: Events take place tomorrow (June 9) and on Tuesday, June 21...
by Matt Merritt
It’s not exactly dawn, but it’s still early enough for birdsong to be cascading down from the tree canopy from the moment we set foot on the Haddon Estate, in the heart of Derbyshire’s Peak District.
Blackbirds, Robins, Great Tits, Song Thrushes, Chaffinches, Wrens and Dunnocks are all in fine voice to match the fine day, while Swallows and House Martins swoop and slide through the air, occasionally coming down to the river to drink or to gather mud for their nests.
Haddon Estate is a member of the English Woodland Grant Scheme, which helps develop woodlands in England to increase their benefits for nature. The dawn chorus walks they’re running are a chance to see just how effective this has been.
Dr Geoff Mawson OBE guides the walks, offering expert guidance to beginner birdwatchers wanting to get to know birdsong better, right through to experienced birders wanting to brush up their skills.
As we progressed, we found several male Redstarts too – these gorgeously marked birds are, thankfully, still doing well here thanks to the Estate’s old trees, and it was a treat to see and hear them at close quarters. A Spotted Flycatcher was a bonus, too – presumably just arrived from the wintering grounds, it hawked insects from a perch – as the season goes on, expect more to be present.
We dipped on the Dippers that inhabit the river, other than a brief glimpse of one dashing upstream, but Mandarins were an unexpected pleasure, and the number of Stock Doves was another tribute to the way the old woodland has been managed – they must be finding plenty of nestholes.
So, if you want to learn a little more about birdsong, while enjoying some of the most glorious countryside in England, get along to Haddon tomorrow (9th June), or on Tuesday 21st June.
The walking tour is approximately four miles long. Appropriate clothing and footwear should be worn.
Pre-booking is essential. £30 per person per day. 7am start.