Dawn Chorus [Radio Ulster]



Presented by Ann Marie McAleese. The songs of the dawn chorus in Co Down broadcast live, with commentary by avid bird watcher Dot Bleakley.

Ann Marie McAleese presents the songs of the dawn chorus in Co Down.


Mark Patterson greets the summer solstice from the ancient Grianan of Aileach stone fort.

As dawn breaks, Mark Patterson greets the summer solstice from the ancient Grianan of Aileach stone fort. With the Gateway Singers.


BBC Radio Ulster links up with RTE Radio 1 to listen to the Dawn Chorus.

BBC Radio Ulster links up with RTE Radio 1 and Radio NRK in Denmark to listen to the Dawn Chorus as the sun comes up.


Annie-Marie McAleese links up with RTE to listen to the Dawn Chorus.

Annie-Marie McAleese and Dr Kendrew Colhoun from the RSPB link up with radio colleagues across Europe to celebrate this ornithological opera.

Following the success of last year’s broadcast, Anne-Marie will be based at the Tollymore National Outdoor Centre in County Down and will link-up with RTÉ’s Derek Mooney at Cuskinny Marsh Nature Reserve in Cork. In addition, several other broadcasters will join them live on air throughout the night – including Radio Moscow in Russia, NRK Norway, BBC Radio 4 and Vara in the Netherlands.

Between Midnight and 7am listeners will get 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. We hope to hear everything from the Nightingale at The Mokbaai, the Capercaillie at Voss, the Finch at Sparrow Hills in Moscow and the Bittern at Ham Hall in England, and - last but not least - our star species in Northern Ireland this year, the Great Spotted Woodpecker of Tollymore Forest Park.

So what is the Dawn Chorus?

This beautiful natural phenomenon which hails the start of a new day is at its peak at this time of year.

In this programme, our experts will be on hand to help identify which birds can be heard amid the clamour and cacophony coming live from each location across Europe.

The dawn chorus is the collective sound of all the birds that sing at dawn, and is thought to be one of the most magical experiences in nature.

It usually refers to the sound made by woodland birds that sing during the breeding season between late March and the beginning of July, but it can also be heard in coastal and urban locations and travels east to west with the rising sun, a literal wave of sound across the face of the earth.

At its most simple it is a way for rival male birds to fight and resolve conflicts without directly coming to blows. It is also a way to impress and attract female birds – he who sings loudest and longest can claim more territory and in turn has a higher chance of finding a mate.