Celebrating International Dawn Chorus Day 2017

Hundreds of early birds will get the chance to hear the dawn chorus over the next week, as National Trust places celebrate International Dawn Chorus Day.

The global event, which takes place this Sunday, will be marked by dawn chorus walks led by rangers and expert birdwatchers at more than 20 National Trust places this month.

Among the sites where walks are planned are Cambridgeshire’s Wicken Fen, one of the UK’s oldest nature reserves and home to rare cuckoos, and Greenway, mystery writer Agatha Christie’s Devon retreat and a sanctuary for scarce farmland bird the cirl bunting.

Robin sitting amongst the branches of Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' in the Winter Garden at Dunham Massey, Cheshire.

Research suggests that listening to the dawn chorus could prove good for the mind – as well as the legs.

The University of Tampere’s Dr Eleanor Ratcliffe spent four years researching the psychological benefits of birdsong. Her PhD at University of Surrey, which discovered that listening to birdsong could relieve feelings of stress, was supported by the National Trust and Surrey Wildlife Trust.

Dr Ratcliffe said: “There’s a large body of research showing that being in nature can help people suffering from stress or mental fatigue. We now also know that natural sounds like birdsong can have similar effects.

“We found that people responded best to birdsong that is melodic, like a blackbird’s song. As for me, I’ve always thought that the wren had a beautiful voice.”

Pete Brash, an expert ecologist at the National Trust, added: “There’s no better feeling than heading out whilst it’s still dark and listening to the birds waking up around you.

“At this time of year listen out for the languid serenade of the willow warbler. If you’re lucky you might even hear a nightingale.”

Read our online guide to British birdsong.

A coastal walk will make you sleep longer and feel happier

  • UK coast walkers sleep an average of 47 minutes longer after a walk by the sea
  • Coastal walking boosts feelings of calm and happiness and provides walkers with a sense of escape
  • Coastal walks offer a distraction from the stresses of everyday life (63 per cent) and make people feel positive about their lives in general (55 per cent)
Family walking along the clifftop at Birling Gap, part of the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs range, East Sussex. The Belle Tout Lighthouse (not NT owned) is seen in the distance.

Family walking along the clifftop at Birling Gap, part of the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs range, East Sussex. Credit National Trust.

A walk by the coast will have you sleeping an extra 47 minutes on average as well as providing you with feelings of calm (83 per cent), happiness (82 per cent) and a sense of escapism (62 per cent), according to a national report out today.

Over two thirds (69 per cent) of Brits state they fall into a deeper sleep after being by the coast with one in three (36 per cent) also saying that the thought alone of the sea helps them sleep at night.

The research has been carried out as part of the National Trust’s Great British Walk campaign, run in partnership with Cotswold Outdoor, to look at how walking on the coast really impacts on our wellbeing and to encourage people to explore our UK coastline, of which 775 miles is cared for by the conservation charity.

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