Dawn Chorus 2019

The Blue Tit

Parus caeruleus 
Meantán Gorm  

The Blue tits are back! Watch the adult feed five young nestlings in the nest box in Derek Mooney's back garden. (Tuesday 14.05.19) The interior of nest box is designed to look like a thatched cottage and the Tit family love it.

For more information about Blue tits - Click Here

The Fox

This recording of the fox was made at Derek's home on Tuesday 14.05.19. The fox is regular visitor to Derek's back garden and likes nothing better than lie out on the granite paving and soak up the sun. 

The Red Fox

Vulpes vulpes  

Madra Rua 

Urban Foxes - Are they Common?
Urban foxes are very common in Dublin. They are found throughout the city and suburbs. Foxes can be seen at night roaming Grafton St. and O'Connell St., with dens near Dáil Eireann. In the suburbs foxes do best in estates with large gardens. 

Areas like Sandymount have very high densities of foxes but they are also found in industrial estates and in some council housing areas. These days Dublin probably has a similar density of urban foxes to English cities like Bristol or London. 

I Thought I Saw a Puddy-Fox!
If you thought you saw a fox in your garden, then chances are you were right! In areas of Dublin where foxes are common most houses will be visited by a fox at some stage of the night. If they don't visit your back garden then they'll almost certainly trout through the front garden on their nightly explorations. If you see a fox in the garden… don't panic. Foxes are pretty harmless and they will run away if approached. However, as with all wild animals, never try to corner a fox as it may bite in panic. Often people are upset by the boldness of urban foxes. Some will not run away even when shouted at from a window, others can be seen strolling down public roads in broad daylight! This is because urban foxes have become habituated to the noise and smells of the city, if you approach them, however, they will run away. 

Should I Feed 'My' Foxes and With What?
The answer to this depends on your motives. If you think the fox looks skinny and needs fattening, don't bother. Foxes are slinky little animals by nature and they are more than able to feed themselves, especially in a food-rich environment like Dublin. If, however, you want to attract foxes so you can watch them, then by all means do. BUT always place the food in a spot you can see from your window, that is well away from the house. Feeding foxes near the house is asking for trouble. 

Foxes are inquisitive animals and an open door or window will be explored, it's not unheard of for foxes to take up residence inside houses or to become trapped in a basement or even an attic! Also never feed foxes by hand, someone will end up getting bitten and the foxes will pay the price. 

You can feed foxes any type of food. They will eat meat, vegetables, fruit etc., scraps will do just fine. Don't over-feed them, remember a lot of your neighbours are probably doing the same thing. 

I Have a Den in My Garden
A lot of urban fox dens are located in disused gardens or overgrown shrubberies. Foxes mate in January/February. At this time of year you may hear the vixen screaming in the night. Often these calls can be quite like a child and it's not unknown for the Gardai to be called out to investigate such screams! 

In March/April the vixen gives birth to, typically, four or five cubs in the den. The cubs are born blind and have a chocolate coloured coat, at this stage they look very un-foxlike. Around June they emerge from the den looking like mini-foxes, with a coat like the parents. During the summer they will spend a lot of time above ground, lying up in bushes and long grass. 

The cubs are playful and inquisitive, so expect flowerbeds to suffer a bit and toys, balls, shoes etc. to get chewed upon. From late September on the cubs begin to disperse to find their own territories and your garden will become peaceful once more. 

How Do I Get Rid of Them?
Some people love them and others (especially keen gardeners) just hate them. Foxes may do damage to lawns and flowerbeds as they root around for grubs and insects. Try to remember that the foxes are getting rid of pests such as beetles, slugs and grubs as well as rats and mice. Try to be patient. 

If you absolutely can't stand them then ask for professional advice rather than trying to solve the problem yourself. Never-ever try to poison your foxes with rat poison. This results in terrible suffering to the fox and you may find yourself on the wrong side of the law if found out. 

Killing foxes will not solve the problem and you risk a terrible fallout with neighbours who may be feeding them. For every fox you kill, there are ten more in the neighbourhood waiting to move in, so you'll only get a few weeks relief at most. This is why councils in England gave up fox control, it cost a fortune to kill the foxes and it made little or no impact on the population. 

One solution often offered by some welfare groups is to re-locate the foxes to the countryside. This may sound like a good idea, but it is cruel to the fox. A relocated fox will find itself in an alien environment, without a territory and will probably die as a result of the relocation. 

Urban foxes (and, incidentally, urban hedgehogs) belong in the City. If you wish to get foxes out of your garden then it's best done using repellents. For more information: The Urban Fox Project Tel: 087 2977931. 

Remember that even if you succeed in getting the foxes to move den, you will always have foxes passing through your garden. It is virtually impossible (bar electric fencing or a big fat Rottweiler) to keep foxes out of an entire garden. Noise and smell repellents will only work for a short time before the fox becomes used to it. You may be able to protect a small area of garden using smelly repellents, but even this may not work for long. 

A fox ate my cat/gerbil/rabbit/hamster etc...
Often I get reports of foxes killing cats. Most are found to be untrue on further investigation. Foxes may indeed kill kittens or very old or ill cats (it's worth mentioning here that cats may kill fox cubs too). However, in the vast majority of cat-fox interactions the cat wins. 

I've seen cats frightening foxes away from their meals through hissing and the odd well-placed scratch. Foxes may be found to be in possession of cat remains but these are most probably the scavenged remains of cats killed on the roads. 

Foxes will kill rabbits, rodents and birds. I have heard of pet owners complaining of losing gerbil after gerbil to the local fox. If you know the fox is in the area then more fool you for re-stocking its dinner plate! The only safe way to keep small pets outside, where you have foxes passing through, is to build a fox proof run. 

Ideally you should build a run that totally surrounds the hutch/living quarters and the feeding/exercise area. The run should be built from heavy chainlink fence or weldmesh (with chicken wire on the inside to keep the pets in). Chicken-wire alone will not keep a fox out. You should bury the chainlink to a depth of 12inches and roof the enclosure with the same chinking fencing. Otherwise keep the pets indoors. 

Do Foxes Carry Disease?
The simple answer is yes, but probably nothing worse than an average dog or cat. The main exception to this is mange. Urban foxes suffer greatly from mange and it spreads quickly from fox to fox. Fox-mange can infect dogs but not cats. In very exceptional cases it may infect humans, but in all my years working with mangy foxes, I've never caught it. 

Infected dogs can be successfully treated with injections and a medicated soap. Dublin vets are seeing an increased number of cases of dogs infected by fox-mange. Treating the foxes themselves is harder but it can be done successfully. A sympathetic vet is needed and the process involved baiting sausages or chicken with Ivomec and feeding this to the infected foxes. The success rate is quite high but it requires time and patience to ensure the medicine only gets to the infected foxes. 

Do Other Irish Cities Have Urban Foxes?
Yes, foxes have been reported from Belfast Cork and Shannon.

A Fox Bred With My Dog.
No chance mate! Foxes and dogs have different numbers of chromosomes and are incompatible for breeding. 

I found a fox cub... What Do I Do?
Unless it is in immanent danger (e.g. on the road) then leave it be, the mother will be near by waiting for you to go. If it is in danger then move it to a safe place near by and leave it, the mother will find it when she returns. If you find a cub and are sure it has been orphaned (e.g. if you find the dead vixen close by or the den is in the garden and you haven't seen the vixen for a long time) then call the Urban Fox Project or the DSPCA

Never be tempted to raise a fox yourself, they are a lot of work and the smell will decimate your circle of friends to just those with chronic nose blockages or who work in a piggery! 

Second Chance Sundays

Over the coming weeks, we'll be giving you another chance to hear some of our Mooney Goes Wild programmes uncovered from the radio archive here in RTÉ. Please tune into RTÉ Radio 1 on Sunday nights at 6pm. Click the links below for more information. 

24th March 2019, (6pm), The Dance of the Cuckoos - Mooney Goes Wild Special 

31st March 2019, (6pm), The Blue Whale - Mooney Goes Wild Special

07th April 2019, (6pm), Feathers - Mooney Goes Wild Special

14th April 2019, (6pm), Bergen Whale - Mooney Goes Wild Special

21st April 2019, (6pm), Sparrows  - Mooney Goes Wild Special 

28th April 2019, (6pm), Wildlife Film Makers - Mooney Goes Wild Special 

05th May 2019, (6pm), The Common Swift - Mooney Goes Wild Special 

E-mail: mooney@rte.ie        Facebook: facebook.com/rtenature          Twitter: @NatureRTE

On Sunday May 5th 2019, it's International Dawn Chorus Day - and listeners across the globe will once more awake to the sound of bird song, thanks to a collaboration between RTÉ, EBU broadcasters and BirdLife International ornithologists!

The Dawn Chorus has become a radio phenomenon in Ireland.  Every spring, for more than two decades now, Derek Mooney and his Mooney Goes Wild team on RTÉ Radio 1 have broadcast the sounds of early morning birdsong into homes across the country.  Following on from the huge success of the multi-award winning Dawn Chorus programmes (which has scooped up both the Rose D'Or for European Radio Event Of The Year and national PPI Radio Award for Innovation in past years), RTÉ has once more teamed up with broadcasters and bird experts around the world, to bring listeners the exquisite sound and expert analysis of this beautiful birdsong.

On Sunday, May 5th 2019, between midnight and 7am Irish time, we will be joined by colleagues from all across the globe, to bring you a glorious array of birdsong from around the world.  It's going to be an epic broadcast!

The countries who will contribute birdsong this year include:

- Ireland
- Australia
- Azerbaijan
- Bahrain
- Cyprus
- England
- Finland
- India
- Israel
- Italy
- Kazakhstan
- Kenya
- Lithuania
- Mauritius
- Northern Ireland
- Poland
- Portugal
- Scotland
- Slovenia
- Wales

Each morning in May, as the first glimmer of light begins to break the darkness of the skies, millions of birds begin to sing.  Each individual bird does this for two key reasons: to lay claim to a breeding territory and to attract a mate.  The birds can’t know this, but to human ears the collective effect is like nothing else in the world.

The wall of sound which the birds produce moves like a great wave across the face of the earth, just as it has done without fail for millions of years, as our planet revolves and the line of dawn shifts westwards.  It provides us with an astonishing insight into how our world functions, breathtaking and humbling in equal measure, as well as into the sheer diversity and majesty of nature.

Birds know no boundaries, and their songs have the power to connect us all in a unique way, right across the continent.  As it moves from east to west with the rising sun, the Dawn Chorus represents a genuine shared link between all countries, transcending national borders and cultures.

People love nature, and have an intrinsic desire to feel a connection with it.  Birdwatching is the fastest-growing leisure activity in the world, and Europe alone is home to tens of millions of birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.  Europe is also home to some of the most spectacular songbirds on the planet, a part of our collective European natural heritage that we should proudly celebrate.

The feedback we receive, year after year, from Irish radio listeners has convinced us that there is indeed something very, very special about the Dawn Chorus.  It is ideally suited to radio: indeed, it’s hard to think of anything that is a more natural fit.  More than that, for thousands of people the Dawn Chorus has become a unique introduction to a wider natural world, right on their own doorsteps, of which they were previously unaware.  It is an experience to which everyone can relate and in which everyone can share.

Male Chaffinch (photo: Michael Finn / BirdWatch Ireland)

This year, we invite radio listeners in other countries to enjoy this amazing connection with the natural world too.  Thanks to our partners who will be taking part in the broadcast, Derek and his team at RTÉ will bring you the full splendour of the Dawn Chorus live from right across the continent, featuring some of Europe’s finest avian performers in full voice.  Experts will be on hand to explain to listeners what is happening, in real time, and to shed some light on the hidden lives of these amazing birds.  It will be a truly fascinating experience!

Special thanks to our conservation partners, BirdWatch Ireland and BirdLife International.

What is the Dawn Chorus?

It is the collective sound of all the birds that sing at dawn.  It usually refers to those sounds made by birds that sing during the breeding season, which for most birds in Ireland is between late March and the beginning of July.  The dawn chorus is usually associated with woodland birds but it can be heard everywhere.  Each habitat has its own distinctive "chorus members". 

The dawn chorus never ceases.  It moves, with the early morning light, like a great wave on the face of the Earth.  At this moment, somewhere in the world, the birds are waking up and bursting into song.  Our ancestors, from time immemorial, awoke to this sound.  Bird songs were, for countless millennia, part of everyday life.  Nowadays, however, locked away in our concrete houses, few of us ever hear them.

Each year, in May, International Dawn Chorus Day seeks to remind us of the beauty of that birdsong.  Following on from the huge success of the European Dawn Chorus, Mooney Goes Wild will once more broadcast that birdsong from locations right across the world in May 2019.

GUIDE TO THE DAWN CHORUS

Dawn Chorus 2019 - Locations, Contributors & Key Species

Intercontinental Dawn Chorus

Dawn Chorus 2019 - Press Release

The Birds Of The Dawn Chorus

Birdsong Explained

What Are Dawn Choruses About?

Taking Part In The Dawn Chorus

Travelling Minstrels

Our Resident Singers

Identifying Birds By Sound

Where To Hear The Dawn Chorus

How To Identify The Singers & Their Songs

Audio tracks from 2005 RTÉ Guide CD The Dawn Chorus

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Presenter: Derek Mooney

Series Producer: Ana Leddy

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