• Anthony Benson

Sunrise in Reddish Vale

2 May 2021 - 4:30 AM. I am definitely not used to this time of morning. I can function from 6:00 AM but why am I awake at this time? For International #DawnChrousDay of course! The #RSPB had been banging on about it for a couple of weeks and as Britain's lockdown #3 was easing I thought why not?


I haven't heard the dawn chorus for a few years. The last time was when catching a plane to Italy. I had briefly heard it as I was loading the cases into the car at sunrise. Sunrise this time would be around 5:30 AM depending on location. So I needed to get ready and travel to the park before then. But first coffee, I can skip breakfast but a hot brew helped wake me up. One cup later I was in the car and driving from Dukinfield to Reddish. Sure I could have gone to a local park but I wanted to take some photos of birds and record their songs using my phone. I chose Reddish because I knew there would be a mixture of bird songs there, not just garden birds like blackbirds and robins.


5:05 AM I arrive at the car park and the place is deserted. I had wondered if there would be other people there bird watching or night fishing but no one was present. The car park is literally next to the fishing ponds at the park's entrance. So I left my kit in the car and walked over to confirm no one was there before taking a couple of mobile phone shots of the mist-veiled waterscape. There were a few birds already on the water and some already in song in the trees around the ponds. The sky was already promising a sunny morning with few clouds and a very light breeze.


I had three quick kit set up tasks to do before dawn. Two tripods, one for a rotating timelapse video on a mobile phone. The other for my stills camera. The last item was another spare phone I'd brought to record the dawn chorus. I triggered the timelapse first then started the audio recorder. Now all I had to do was take in the view, snap photographs and listen to the birds.


As the sun rose the light changed the colour of the clouds and sky on the eastern horizon. Turning from blue to pale pink and then into deep golden hues. Between the horizon and where I stood was the railway viaduct. Wikipedia tells me it dates back to 1875 and has several arches. Urban myths also say it is unlucky to count them but I was just hoping the viaduct wouldn't get in the way of capturing the sunrise. I was also worried that the mist would make things too foggy. In the end, the mist made the sunrise more spectacular and even the viaduct arches framed it. It was such a blur at dawn as several things happened all at once. The birds raised their song to a competitive edge, shafts of sunlight backlit the trees and mist in the vale beyond the viaduct's arches. Some of the shafts even passed through the arches and pierced the mist in front too. The sun rose, the mist swirled above the water and the sunbeams created golden shafts in the air.



Truly spectacular!

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