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A redshank at dawn

International Dawn Chorus Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of May and this year it’ll be marked on Sunday 5 May.

While many people think of garden and woodland birds when it comes to memorable bird song, we think our coastal birds give them a good run for their money.

Here’s 9 of our favourite coastal bird calls to listen to:

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1. Incomparable curlew

These large wading birds with their extraordinary curved bills have an unmistakable haunting ‘cur-lee’ call. Throughout the winter you have a good chance of hearing it when visiting the coast.

Over the summer months, they move inland to breed to areas like the New Forest. We’ll see them back on our shores towards the end of summer.

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2. Outlandish lapwing

Iridescent lapwings are often called “peewits”, which refers to the piercing unworldly sound they make – it’s been described as sounding like someone twiddling the knobs on a synthesiser.

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3. Remarkable redshank

Red-limbed redshanks are known as the ‘warden of the marshes’ because they’re often the first and one of the loudest birds to warn other species when there is a predator about.

They have a high-pitched short whistling call which they repeat over and over again.

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4. Offbeat eider

Like some other ducks, these dapper birds with ‘concorde’ shaped bills don’t make a quacking noise. Instead they sound like they’ve just heard some scandalous gossip.

Anyone remember Frankie Howerd?

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5. Wonderful wigeon

Another duck that doesn’t quack. Wigeons, with their chestnut heads and characteristic creamy-yellow ‘punk’ crown stripe make a memorable whistling call.

Over the summer months they return to their summer breeding grounds in Iceland, Russia, Scandinavia and Ukraine. We look forward to hearing their whistling call on their return in the autumn.

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6. Bittern

This enigmatic bird, part of the heron family, has a less than secretive mating call. The sound is a very deep and long mournful note which sounds a bit like someone blowing across the top of an empty wine bottle.

It can be heard a mile or more away and each bird sounds slightly different, which means scientists have been able to individually identify different birds.

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7. Glorious brent geese

As they fly overhead, you can hear them chattering away to each other, making their glorious guttural crrrronk call.

Unlike other geese, they don’t tend to fly in V-formations: instead you’ll see streams of them ribboning across the sky.

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8. Cartoonish little egret

Although these elegant snow-white birds are a familiar sight along the Solent, their calls aren’t commonplace at all.

They’re mostly silent but they can make an extraordinary bubbling sound: an inspiration for Donald Duck perhaps.

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9. Giggling gulls

The laughing ‘kehaar’ call of the black-headed gull provides the second half of their scientific name – ridibundus – which translates as ‘laughing’.

It also gave the author Richard Adams the name of the gull Kehaar in his Watership Down novel.

What coastal bird call do you think should have made it into our top 9?