Intercontinental Dawn Chorus Programme

Hedgerow Cutting Restrictions - The National Parks and Wildlife Service

Restrictions on cutting hedgerows are set out in Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976 as amended by the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 and the Heritage Act 2018. These Acts stipulate that it is an offence to destroy vegetation on uncultivated land between the 1st of March and the 31st of August each year.  The Heritage Act 2018 includes provisions to allow for managed hedge cutting and burning at certain times within the existing closed period on a pilot two year basis.

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If you notice something unusual in the natural world in your garden or on your travels or have a question about wildlife, ask the Mooney Goes Wild experts! We will do our best to get you the answer but remember a picture paints a thousand words so, if it is possible and safe to do so, take a picture and send it to Mooney@rte.ie

At midnight on Sunday, May 5th, Mooney Goes Wild host Derek Mooney will be at Cuskinny Marsh Nature Reserve in Cobh, to join Dr. Richard Collins, our venerable birdsong expert, and Niall Hatch of BirdWatch Ireland, for the start of our annual seven-hour live broadcast of the Dawn Chorus.

This year, we will be visiting more than 30 locations across the globe, with a few surprises for you along the way.  We will hear from our colleagues in All India Radio, LRT in Lithuania, YLE in Finland, RTVSLO in Slovenia, ABC in Australia and the BBC by four: BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, who are hoping to treat us to the unmistakable sound of the Cuckoo on Wicken Fen, stomping ground of Oliver Cromwell back in the day!

Along the way we will call in to a host of new Dawn Chorus destinations: Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Mauritius, Israel, Cyprus, Italy and Portugal, and also our first ever Dawn Chorus foray onto the African continent, as we bring you the dawn chorus live from Kenya!

You’ll be hearing plenty of European birds in the early hours of tomorrow morning, as this time of year is when birdsong is at its very best in this part of the world, as the sun rises early in the more northerly latitudes.  But we thought we would start this year’s celebration of birdsong with some of our less familiar avian cousins from around the globe.  During this programme we will bring you on a tour of our planet’s six other continents and feature some remarkable birdsong that differences in time and season prevent us from including in our live broadcast.

South America is often called "the bird continent", and it is home to more different species of bird than any other.  Its largest nation is Brazil, the fifth-largest country in the world, and is home also to Earth’s largest river, the mighty Amazon, from which 209 thousand cubic metres of water flow into the Atlantic Ocean every second.

From left: Pedro Develey, the beautiful Pantanal in Brazil, which is home to such stunning birds as the Hyacinth Macaw

More than 13 and a half thousand Brazilians now call Ireland home, and they will no doubt be aware of the astonishing natural riches of their native land.  The jewel in that natural crown is the Pantanal, a vast, flat wetland that is home to Brazilian Tapirs, Jaguars, Giant River Otters and an amazing diversity of songbirds.

Pedro Develey is a biologist and avian conservationist and is Executive Director of SAVE Brazil, the official Brazilian Partner of BirdLife International.  And it’s to the Pantenal that Pedro has gone to bring us some of his country’s very best birdsong.

From the equatorial tropics of Brazil, we move to a very different habitat - about as different as it gets!  Antarctica, or the "frozen continent", is perhaps the most inhospitable place on the planet, as Kerryman Tom Crean, veteran of no fewer than three major Antarctic expeditions, knew well.

The coldest temperature ever recorded on our planet – minus 89.2 degrees Celsius, or minus 128.6 degrees Fahrenheit in old money – was measured at Antarctica’s remote Vostok Station in 1983.  The continent’s valleys are the driest places on Earth, with almost no recorded precipitation ever, much of its land is covered by an ice sheet that is about a mile thick and it is home to about 70% of our planet’s entire freshwater supply, albeit in frozen form.

Centre: Jim Wilson, flanked by (l) a group of Gentoo penguins and (r) some fighting Gentoos

Yet despite these seeming overwhelming barriers, life thrives in Antarctica, if you know where to look... and to listen.  Its rocky shores and offshore islands teem with over 100 million breeding birds each summer – which is, of course, during our Northern Hemisphere wintertime – including vast populations of albatrosses, petrels, terns and penguins.

Mooney Goes Wild stalwart Jim Wilson has a special love for Antarctica, and regularly leads tours and research trips to the frozen continent, its islands and its rich waters.

Australia has been completely isolated from other continental landmasses for 30 million years – which is when, appropriately enough, it split away from Antarctica – it became home to a completely unique flora and fauna, as evolution worked the magic of natural selection independently of the rest of the planet.

These powerful natural forces are responsible for bringing us the iconic Australian animals we know today: the kangaroos and wallabies, the Koala, the Duck-billed Platypus, the Wombat, to name but a few . . . as well as an utterly unique avifauna responsible for some of the most spectacular and unusual birdsong that our planet has to offer.

Ann Jones of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation joins in our Dawn Chorus celebration with some of Australia’s most popular singers: no, not Nick Cave, Sia or even Kylie, but some of the finest songbirds that can be found ‘down under’.

Africa is the continent where human life first began, and today it is home to our planet’s most iconic mammals: lions, elephants, cheetahs, hippos and hyenas, to name but a few.  It is also home to a remarkable diversity of birds, and one of the very best places to experience these is the beautiful West African nation of Ghana, which boasts an embarrassment of natural riches that supports its ever-growing ecotourism sector.  Birdwatching tourism in particular has become an important source of income for many Ghanaian communities, and the country’s reputation as an avian paradise is richly deserved.  Ralph Lartey, of Ghana Wildlife Society, went out to record the sound of his country's Dawn Chorus for us...

Asia is the largest continent on Earth, and is also home to the majority of its people.  It might seem surprising, but even in the most densely populated areas birds have learned not just to survive but to thrive.  Hong Kong measures just 1,106 square kilometres, meaning that it is more than 76 times smaller than Ireland.  Nonetheless, it is home to in excess of 7.5 million people, making it one of the most densely populated places on Earth.

Hong Kong is home to such birds as Fork-tailed Sunbird, Chestnut winged Cuckoo and Common Tailorbird (photos: Matthew Kwan)

Over the centuries, as human pressures increased and its once-lush forests were gradually felled, Hong Kong lost much of its animal life.  A government reforestation programme was initiated in the 1970s, however, and slowly but surely wildlife has been returning.  There is still much to be done, but this project is now acknowledged as one of the most successful of its kind ever undertaken, and has seen a massive increase in the number and diversity of birds in particular.

Left: Matthew Kwan (Photo ©HK01); right: Project Crow

Despite its tiny size, this territory is now home to more bird species than Ireland and Britain combined: an astonishing 546 at last count.  This means that the Hong Kong dawn chorus is especially rich and varied.  Matt Kwan, from Project Crow, is our man in Asia...

One of the most popular destinations for Irish emigrants and trans-Atlantic holiday-makers alike these days is Canada, the largest country in North America and the second-largest in the world, after Russia.  Truly vast, it spans six time zones, has a longer coastline than any other country – over 202,000 kilometres – and has the fourth-lowest population density in the world, at just three people per square kilometre.

Left: Tommy Thompson Park in Toronto; centre: Toronto Ornithological Club; right: Justin Peters

Left: Tommy Thompson Park in Toronto; centre: Toronto Ornithological Club; right: Justin Peters

Half of the entire country is occupied by the mighty boreal forest.  Although this experiences very cold winters, it also boasts warm summers, extended daylight hours and an abundance of insects, making it extremely attractive to migratory warblers, thrushes and flycatchers, which also happen to be some of the world’s finest singers.  As you might expect, this means that the Canadian dawn chorus is particularly impressive.  Justin Peters of Toronto Ornithological Club met up with CBC's Alison Broverman to bring us the best of Toronto's Dawn Chorus!

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Presenter: Derek Mooney

Series Producer: Ana Leddy

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