Breakfast with the Birds

Who’d of known that a 4AM, yes I said 4AM, even existed!!! Sunday morning brought about FoTV’s much anticipated Dawn Chorus Event. And what a thrilling event it was.

FoTV, our members, Ranger Chris and members of the public all met at Tawd Valley allotments, before the sun even thought of raising its head, to join local expert and the very knowledgeable birder – Graham Clarkson. Who was to be our teacher and guide for the morning.

Graham began the day with an introduction. He spoke about his work, the birds we will likely hear and he answered a few questions from our inquisitive group.


After introductions had finished we began our trek down passed the Community Fruit Orchard and into the Tawd Valley Park. The first birds to break the early morning silence were that of the Blackbird and Song Thrush. Graham explained that Blackbird and Song Thrush have similar songs, with the thrush having a more uniform tune, while the Blackbirds sounds similar, but tends to have a tune that’s more jumbled.

We continued on towards Summer Street and headed into the Valleys largest wildflower meadow. As the morning progressed and the sun started to give up its light, more and more bird species made their presence known with their individual, unique songs. Graham provided the group with a really useful tip to distinguish between the different bird songs – Stand still, close your eyes and spend a couple of minutes listening and try to focus on one song at a time and in what direction it is coming from. And do you know what!? It really does make a difference. We could hear Coal Tits, Blue Tits, Great Tits (with their distinctive call of “Teacher, Teacher”), Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush and just at that moment a pheasant called out in the distance. It was a fascinating experience.

Graham imparting his wisdom

The journey took us under Houghton’s Road Bridge and onwards to where the elusive Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Goldcrest and Blackcap calls could be heard among the tree canopy. A right turn took the walk in the direction of the Half Mile Lake, here more bird song rang out and Mallard, Moorhen and Canadian Geese could all be seen gliding along on the lakes surface. Ring ripples also broke the waters surface as small fish fed upon the insects and flies for their breakfast.

After taking in the beauty at the water edge, the group headed back to Mill Lane Bridge and further on into the park were a volery of Long-tailed Tits danced in and out amongst a large patch of brambles, much to the delight of everyone watching. The ramble circled and headed back, finishing the trip were it started at the allotments, but it wasn’t over. The late rising Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Bullfinch and House Sparrow made an appearance and surprised with their song and flight. A great way to end a fantastic event.

The end of a another successful event

A list of the birds heard/seen on the morning: Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Moorhen, Coot, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Goldfinch, Mallard, Woodpigeon, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Blackcap, Chiffchaffs, Pheasant and as Mike Flaherty and his son were walking through the Valley before the event started they heard a Tawny Owl call. The range of bird species that was heard on the morning is such a positive example of the diversity and beauty that is within the Tawd Valley Park.

Thank you so much to Graham Clarkson for his very informative and educational walk that he very kindly gave to the Skelmersdale community. You can find more about Graham on Facebook. He hosts a wonderful FB page called “West Lancashire Nature Notes”. Its brimming with photos and information of wildlife in the local and surrounding areas. Check it out here: West Lancashire Nature Notes | Facebook