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New Zealand Bellbird - photo by Li-Li Williams
New Zealand Bellbird – photo by Li-Li Williams

With the busy days, long drives and late nights there weren’t many mornings in NZ when I felt like getting up early enough to catch the dawn chorus, especially since we were only a few weeks away from the summer solstice and the sun rose before 6am. One time I did get up early was during our three nights in Marahau. The rest of the campsite was still fast asleep so I only had to go a few metres from the van to record without any disturbance. At the beginning of this recording the main singers are Bellbird (Anthornis melanura) – as far as I can tell, anyway. I find distinguishing between Bellbird and Tui quite tricky without actually seeing the birds, especially as the Tui can mimic just about anything, so if any NZ bird experts would like to correct me please do!

As the recording goes on European Blackbird (Turdus merula) and Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) join in, along with the occasional contribution from some of the local chickens. I find the discordance between the native and introduced songs very noticeable – in a European dawn chorus the songs of the two thrush species would blend harmoniously into the other birdsong, but to me they clash with the Bellbird and make the latter part of the recording slightly uncomfortable to listen to.

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