Dawn chorus – the early bird gets the worm!

Sun rise

The Watercress Way is famed for its variety of habitats and hence birds. Sadly, we are unable to run a field event this year – but there are lots of virtual tours and actual events out there!

Here’s the audio and write up of such a walk on our website


Perhaps even revisit President Roosevelt’s famous walk in 1909 with Lord Grey along the Itchen Valley yourself (no need to go at dawn!)


Here are some good links and facts:


From March to July, those feathered alarm clocks are at it again, as they defend their territories and sing to attract a mate.

Our songbirds time their breeding season to the warmest part of the year, when there is plenty of food and lots of daylight in which to find it. As winter turns to spring, the lengthening daylight switches male songbirds into breeding mode.

The first songsters of the season are residents such as robins and great tits, joined later on by migrants like chiffchaffs and blackcaps to make May and June the peak time to enjoy the dawn chorus.

10 facts!

(Courtesy The Daily Express)

  1. When you hear a bird singing, it is most likely a male. They sing to attract mates or mark territory
  2. Female birds in the tropics, Australia and South Africa sing more than elsewhere in the world
  3. Some birds have only a single song in their repertoire but others have up to 2,000
  4. Some birds such as starlings and canaries continue learning new songs all their lives. Others stop learning new songs when they are still young
  5. Songs of true songbirds vary from the two-note song of the chiffchaff to the 103-note phrase (sung in as little as 8.25 seconds) of the wren
  6. When female cuckoos are looking for somewhere to lay their eggs they emit a call that has been described as “like water gurgling down a plughole”
  7. In many bird species, especially in the tropics, male and female birds sing together in duets
  8. Birds are not born with the ability to sing songs but they learn them in the nest
  9. Research has shown that British songbirds have differing dialects, changing in pitch, tone and tune according to the regions they live in
  10. Regional accents are thought to lessen the chance of birds mating with those from elsewhere

Our Latest News

Your support still needed to preserve England’s railway heritage

We recently published information on the railway bridge at Stoke Road, Itchen Abbas that is affected by the proposed plans by Highways England to demolish

Watercress Waymarker

2021: Plans for the year ahead

2020 was a difficult year for the charity with the restrictions during the Covid pandemic. We were unable to run our normal range of activities and fundraise. Despite this, we had a busy year planning for the future

Collage Trustee Poster March 2021

The hunt begins ….could you be a Trustee?

The Watercress Way Charity seeks 2 new trustees: a Treasurer and an Ecologist   Treasurer: Could you oversee our efficient, easy to run online system? Training is available. Ecologist: Have you a knowledge of wildlife, conservation and interest in recreational land management and community involvement?  Typical trustee tasks include commenting on planning proposals affecting the…


Railway bridges threatened

Highways England are planning to demolish or infill decommissioned railway assets that could instead be used by walkers and cyclists. 135 structures are currently at risk including the bridge  at Stoke Road, Itchen Abbas which is planned to be infilled. More info on the New Civil Engineer website. Please sign the Railway Rambler’s petition here:…