This recording captures the nuances of the dawn chorus in groves and bushes. Some of the most lyrical songbirds nest in these glades. Many experts believe that the Blyth’s Reed Warbler and the Bluethroat are two of the birds with the most beautiful repertoires. Each individual seems to have a distinctive call and singing talents. The starling is also a skilled mimic, copying the calls of other songbirds.
The recordings also include the characteristic courtship rhythms of three woodpecker species found in the leafy forests in Finland. In addition, you can hear several rare species in Finland, for example the European Serin, the Black Redstart, the White-backed Woodpecker and the Yellow-breasted Bunting.
The recording of this CD was a challenge – but also a labour of love. I have the fondest memories of hearing wonderful dawn choruses on early spring mornings and can still almost taste the heady aroma of the leaves and flowers after dusk around midsummer. I express my heartfelt thanks to my loved ones, friends, ornithologists, guides, helpers – in fact to everyone who contributed to this recording.
Kuopio, 5 September 2006
Producer / Recording engineer
Track descriptions and background species
01 Common Starling 1 26 April 2006, 7.15 a.m. Korppoo, Rumar. Starlings start to nest in April and this is the time to hear these songbirds at their best. This recording was made on a farm in southwestern Finland. Not only can you hear the birds in the meadow adjacent to the farm but if you listen carefully you can also make out the distant sounds of the seashore. Common Chaffinch, Eurasian Skylark, Common Eider, European Greenfinch,Black Grouse, Great Crested Grebe, Yellowhammer, Blue Tit, Fieldfare, Herring Gull. 5’04"
02 White-backed Woodpecker 1 11 May 2006, 5.00 a.m. Kuopio, Riistavesi. The White-backed Woodpecker nests in unspoiled, mature birch tree forests where there are lots of fallen, rotting trees. This species of woodpecker is rare in Finland. It makes a very distinct rhythmic drum-like sound. The courtship rituals occur in March but it is still possible to hear the sounds of a male defending its territory as late as June. The recording was made on a May morning – you can hear the drum-like rhythm of the male White-backed Woodpecker along with the sounds of the primeval forest. Common Chaffinch, Redwing, Hooded Crow, Common Wood Pigeon,Whooper Swan, Eurasian Treecreeper, Willow Warbler, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Snipe, Fieldfare. 2’50"
03 Blyth's Reed Warbler 31 May 2003, 1.00 a.m. Rantasalmi. The lush and leafy groves of willows and birches are the place to hear the song of the Blyth’s Reed Warbler in the dusk of early summer. The Blyth’s Reed Warbler is often considered as one of nature’s best mimics, but many experts feel that it creates some of the most beautiful bird sounds you will hear anywhere in the world. This species has an easily recognized call – unhurried repetition of its lyrical chorus. Eurasian Woodcock. 4’51"
04 Common Redstart and Stock Dove 15 May 2005, 5.15 a.m. Lithuania Kuurinkynnäs, Juodkrante. This recording was made on a fresh May morning in a leafy glade. The Common Redstart and the Stock Dove are two species which nest in holes in the trees. Common Cuckoo, Common Blackbird, Common Chiffchaff, Common Starling, Common Chaffinch, Common Wood Pigeon. 5’10"
05 Western Jackdaw 24 April 2006, 5.45 a.m. Korppoo, Rumar. Western Jackdaws make their nests in parks, gardens and trees in the vicinity of towns. Favoured nesting sites are the courtyards of manor houses. Western Jackdaws need suitable nest holes if they are to breed successfully. In their spring breeding season, the birds congregate in large numbers. They are very vocal when they square off, head-to-head. In this recording, the birds have gathered in a leafy grove near to the village. Common Chaffinch, Eurasian Skylark, Black Grouse, Common Eider, Great Tit, White Wagtail. 2’39"
06 Black Redstart 16 May 2005, 4.50 a.m. Lithuania Kuurinkynnäs, Juodkrante. The Black Redstart is quite rare in Finland, only found on the coasts around the south and south-west of the country. In central Europe, this species nests on bushy ground near high cliffs or buildings. Gradually, this species is spreading to northern Europe. The Black Redstart has a very distinct call; it does resemble the song of the Common Redstart but its song is divided into two parts and it is more raspy. This recording was made one quiet early morning in a Lithuanian village school near to the birch trees in the schoolyard. Hooded Crow, Great Tit, Common Chaffinch,Thrush Nightingale. 3’35"
07 Long-tailed Tit 26 March 2006, 9.15 a.m. Kuopio, Riistavesi. The Long-tailed Tit is something of a rarity in Finland. It likes to build its nest in well-lit, old leafy woods. The best time to see this species is the autumn when flocks of the birds start their migration. This species does not seem to have any unique courtship song but in the springtime you can hear its chorus which is reminiscent of the Blue Tit. This recording also includes two other calls emitted by this species – its chirping and the shrill pip-like call. Willow Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker. 2’08"
08 Tawny Owl 14 April 2006, 4.50 a.m. Rautalampi. The courtship rituals of the Tawny Owl start in the heart of winter. In the frozen depths of January, it is possible to hear the hoots of this owl in gardens and leafy forests. But you can also hear its characteristic heart-stopping call on a June evening. This recording was made early one warm morning in April in a park in the village of Rautalampi. 2’08"
09 European Serin 14 June 2003, 3.50 a.m. Kuopio. News of the sighting of a European Serin acts like a magnet to bird-watchers in Finland since this bird is a rarity here. It has been seen as far north as Kilpisjärvi in the far north-west corner of Lapland, singing merrily in a birch forest. In fact, the easiest way to locate this bird is to listen for its distinct call. The song is sufficiently distinct that it really cannot be confused with other species. At the start of this track, you can hear the bird singing somewhat hesitatingly, but soon it is in full-voice, soloing chorus after chorus. Willow Warbler, Redwing, Common Rosefinch, Fieldfare, Common Chaffinch. 3’24"
10 Eurasian Golden Oriole 27 June 2000, 3.30 a.m. Kuopio, Riistavesi. The Eurasian Golden Orioles nest in the birch trees around the lake shores of central Finland. Their nests are built high up in the canopy of the birches, hanging down from the branches. This exotic-looking lemon-coloured bird gets its Finnish name (kuhankeittäjä) from its characteristic call. Garden Warbler, Fieldfare, Brambling, Common Chaffinch, Willow Warbler. 2’51"
11 Red-breasted Flycatcher 24 May 2006, 5.55 a.m. Kuopio, Vuorilampi. The delicate call of the Red-breasted Flycatcher, a rarity around these parts, can be heard in mature forests. The birds arrive from the south in May to June and that is the best time to hear their characteristic song. This recording was made against a backdrop of the sound of raindrops falling from the leaves after a shower during the night. Redwing, Great Tit, Common Chaffinch, Willow Tit, Eurasian Siskin, Goldcrest. 4’12"
12 Lesser Spotted Woodpecker 11 May 2006, 6.00 a.m. Kuopio, Riistavesi. The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is only the size of a sparrow. It nests in shoreline groves and thickets surrounding fields, especially places where there are fallen rotting trees. In this track you can hear the rhythmic drum-like sound of a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker against an old sturdy aspen at the edge of a meadow. Redwing, Tree Pipit, Whooper Swan,Common Chaffinch, Eurasian Curlew, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit. 3’03"
13 Thrush Nightingale 20 June 1999, 3.40 a.m. Köyliö, Kirkkosaari. The song of the Thrush Nightingale rings through the leafy grove in the midsummer dusk. It is a song which never fails to thrill, one of nature’s lyrical masterpieces. The Thrush Nightingale which nests in the leafy groves of southern and central Finland is a more skillful and versatile songbird than its cousin the Common Nightingale - a rarity in Scandinavia. Redwing,Fieldfare. 3’24"
14 Common Linnet 26 April 2000, 6.55 a.m. Korppoo, Rumar. The Common Linnet likes to nest in meadows, especially land with juniper bushes and wild flowers. The male’s versatile bursts of song can be heard emerging from the crown of the bush. The Common Linnet’s song has a raspy character, but it can also chirp and whistle in a very melodic manner. Black Grouse, Common Chaffinch, Common Raven. 1’48"
15 Great Grey Shrike 3 July 2005, 6.30 a.m. Kaavi, Kortteinen. The sighting of a Great Grey Shrike is quite an event in Finland. Occasionally, individuals may nest in southern parts of Finland. This bird prefers semi-open spaces where it can hunt for small rodents. It nests in the edges of marshes or in cleared forest areas. On the recording, you can hear the cries of fledglings in the bushes around a cleared forest grove. At the start of the track, you can hear the typical sound of the mother bird. Great Tit. 2’12"
16 Yellow-breasted Bunting and Common Whitethroat 6 June 1998, 8.15 a.m. Siilinjärvi, Aappola. Finland is one of the extremes of the Yellow-breasted Bunting’s nesting zones. This species is becoming extremely rare, even in its traditional nesting sites. The bird likes to nest in bushes in marshes and wetlands. A direct translation of its Finnish name would be the golden chirper, an apt name since its chorus is golden in quality and range and the male’s belly region is also a bright yellow colour. In the recording, it is almost as if a male Yellow-breasted Bunting was having an animated conversation with a Common Whitethroat. Sedge Warbler,Common Snipe, Willow Warbler, Whinchat. 4’37"
17 Grey-headed Woodpecker 1 27 April 2006, 7.00 a.m. Korppoo, Rumar. In addition to the drumming sound of the courtship ritual, the Grey-headed Woodpecker also emits a loud, far-reaching courtship call series. The male prefers to call out from locations where its cry will carry over long distances, for example from the uppermost branches of a tall tree. On the track, the courtship call of the Grey-headed Woodpecker can be heard above the dawn chorus of one morning in April. European Robin, Common Chiffchaff, Common Chaffinch, Common Eider, Winter Wren, Common Wood Pigeon. 1’49"
18 Garden Warbler 1 June 2003, 4.30 a.m. Rantasalmi. There is a torrent of brilliant birdsong bursting out of the forest grove. It is surely being sung by a Garden Warbler which has just arrived in its nesting zone. The merry songster can also be found nesting in the leafy bushes of a garden. Willow Warbler, Fieldfare, Common Starling, Common Rosefinch, Common Wood Pigeon, Common Cuckoo, Common Chaffinch. 3’14"
19 Eurasian Woodcock and Common Cuckoo 31 August 2000, 00.30 a.m. Maaninka. Two sounds brighten the dimness of a summer night; a sharp tick-like sound and a strange noise, like a frog croaking. They are the courtship calls of the Eurasian Woodcock. These sounds are so distinctive that there can be no mistaking this species. In the recording, the sounds of three Eurasian Woodcocks are in harmony with the Common Cuckoo’s call and the soundscape of the late summer in eastern Finland. Redwing, Song Thrush. 2’43"
20 White-backed Woodpecker 2 26 March 2006, 9.30 a.m. Kuopio, Riistavesi. A snow-covered birch grove in March. This is the time to hear the noisy sounds of the woodpecker as it defends its territory from intruders. In the recording you can hear the courtship call of the White-backed Woodpecker which becomes very animated and excited as the bird becomes alarmed that other woodpeckers may be close by. Willow Tit, Great Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker. 2’34"
21 Bluethroat 22 May 2004, 3.10 a.m. Savukoski, Värriö. The Bluethroat normally nests in the fells of Lapland in birch trees or willows by the banks of streams or marshlands. In addition, this vocal virtuoso occasionally nests in the forested parts of Lapland. This recording was made in a Lapp forest in the clear light of a morning at the end of May. The handsome male Bluethroat has his territory in the banks of a stream where there is a thicket of willows and stunted birch trees. Willow Warbler, Song Thrush, Wood Sandpiper, Black Grouse, Whimbrel, Redwing, Common Snipe. 5’15"
22 Grey-headed Woodpecker 2 27 April 2006, 6.30 a.m. Korppoo, Rumar. Spring in southern Finland brings the drumming sound of the Grey-headed Woodpecker to the ancient mixed forests of the region. This large woodpecker prefers to nest in the vicinity of old aspens. The drumming sound of the Grey-headed Woodpecker is very rapid and it can carry for up to half a kilometre, depending on the wind speed and direction. Common Blackbird, European Robin, Common Eider, Common Raven, Common Crane, Crested Tit, Common Chaffinch, European Greenfinch, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Common Wood Pigeon. 4’39"
23 Common Starling 2 2 May 2004, 5.50 a.m. Kristiina, Skaftung. The Common Starling is a skilled vocalist. It often nests in nest-boxes but will also make its home in natural crevices and hollows. This strange and distinctive bird song emerging from the leafy grove is almost certainly a Common Starling trying to mimic some other birds. In this track, a Common Starling in a birch tree in a courtyard can be heard mimicking the sounds of a Common Rosefinch, Mew Gull and Eurasian Curlew. Mew Gull, Whooper Swan, Blue Tit. 4’09"
Translated by Airi Mcdonald and Ewen McDonald 2007