Previous events

  • Learning the Songs of Birds

Saturday, 6 May 2017, 9:30am – 1:30pm


If you would like to learn to identify the songs of birds, this Saturday morning workshop will get you started. You will be immersed in the songs of a range of local species. Listening exercises, with the visual aid of song spectrograms, will help develop your ear by cueing you into the typical sound patterns. Beginners and experienced birdwatchers equally welcome.

At Queen’s University Belfast, as part of the Open Learning Programme. 

Talks and Lectures:

SONGSCAPE: how birdsong is shaped by its environment


7:30pm, 5 October 2016, Ulster Museum, Belfast.


2016 Dawn and Dusk Chorus walks:

  • Dawn Chorus: 5:30am, Sunday 24 April 2016, Lagan Valley Country Park (To REGISTER and for further details email
  • Dawn Chorus: 06:00, Tuesday 26 April 2016, Stranmillis College, Belfast (contact Stranmillis College; see below)
  • Dusk Chorus: 20:00, Friday 29 April 2016, Learmount Forest, Park, Co. Derry (for more details contact Learmount Community Development Group Ltd on 028 7778 1881)




Stranmillis Lifelong Learning Programme

  • Signs and Wonders: Reading and Writing the Poetry of Birds

Flitting through our minds, settling in our imagination, in omens and augury, birds have been part of human artistic expression from ancient times. Poetry provides a natural environment for a diverse and expanding community of species that appear as symbols and metaphors, sing of belonging and yearning, and let our dreams take flight. This course explores the relationship between poetry and birds with close reading and discussion of a wide range of classic and contemporary poems. There will also be the opportunity to produce and gain feedback of your own work written out of observation and listening exercises. Beginners welcome.

10.00am – 12.00noon Monday, 6 weeks

11th April – 23rd May 2016. No class, Monday 2nd May 2016

Recommended reading: The Poetry of Birds, Simon Armitage and Tim Dee, Penguin

  • Stranmillis Dawn Chorus

4743.Chaffinch (Male) (A4)

Join ornithologist, Dr Mary Montague, for nature’s orchestra at the best time of day in the heart of the city. Marvel at robins, thrushes, finches, warblers and more, as they tune up for the breeding season, all in the campus of Stranmillis University College. You will gain insight into the importance of song for bird communication and the specialness of urban birdsong. Then finish off with a delicious cooked breakfast on campus in CHATZ restaurant (8:45 to 9:30am). Dress comfortably for early morning, and bring binoculars if you have them. Meet in the front car park at 6am.

Date & Time: Tues 26 April 2016; 6:00-9:30am

  • Learning the songs of birds

Willow_Warbler_Phylloscopus_trochilusAs spring commences, mornings fill with the birdsong that makes such a special contribution to our local soundscape. You may be familiar with the visual appearance of a species but would like to be able to identify their song. Recognising songs is helpful in identifying distant birds through thick foliage, giving added pleasure to your garden’s dawn chorus, a country walk or stroll through the park. This workshop immerses you in the songs of a range of local species, cueing you in to their typical sound pattern through listening exercises and visual aids. Beginners and more experienced birdwatchers equally welcome.

Date & Time: Saturday, 23 April, 2016; 9am – 1pm


Queen’s University, Belfast, Open Learning Programme

  • The Evolution of Birds

As “living dinosaurs”, birds teach us about the deep past. Our understanding of bird evolution has been revolutionised by the discoveries of molecular biology and by new fossils on every continent. We follow the big stories. Why such diversity of species? How did feathers, flight and song evolve? We discuss the evidence, debate the controversies and marvel at the birds.

The course runs for 5 weeks from 26 April until 24 May 2016.

Day & Time: Tuesday, 7-9pm.

“A very well thought-out course. Extremely interesting” (Participant, 2016)



  • Birdsong appreciation

Birdsong is a vital part of our aural environment. Crucial for bird communication, song also carries significant resonance for humans, as reflected in mythology, literature and music. This course spans natural history, science and the arts to learn/improve identification of local species by song, and to study birdsong both as a biological signal and for its contribution to human culture.

The course ran for 10 weeks from 18 January until 21 March 2016.

Day & Time: Monday, 2-4pm.


  • The Story of Evolution: from Theory to Fact.


The story of evolution is one of Western culture’s greatest narratives, unifying that most diverse of natural sciences, biology. Drawing on history and philosophy of science and on scientific research, this course examines the history of evolutionary theory from Greek philosophy through Darwin’s inspired intellectual leap and the subsequent developments of his ideas to encompass genetics and plasticity.

Charles Darwin aged 51.

The course rans for 10 weeks from Sept-Nov 2015, and Jan-March 2017

Day & Time: Monday, 2-4pm.

Recommended textbook: What Evolution Is by Ernst Mayr (Phoenix)

“The course covered a great deal of ground with great clarity”

(Participant, 2016)


Coleraine Dusk Chorus Walk,

Saturday 16 May 2015

Time: 08:20pm (20:20).
Place: Causeway Hospital grounds, 4 Newbridge Road, Coleraine BT52 1HS.

For further details, contact Rachel Bain, Biodiversity Officer,
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council
T: 028 7034 7272

Dusk chorus walk



  • Learmount Forest Dusk Chorus Walk and Talk

    Sunday 3 May 2015
    Time: 08:00pm (20:00).
    Place: Learmount Community Centre, 192 Learmount Road, Park, Co Derry BT47 4BA

    For further details, contact Annie Mullan, Community Engagement Officer
    Faughan Valley Landscape Partnership, Derry City Council.

    Tel: 028-71337498

  • Kilrea Dawn Chorus Walk and Talk,

Saturday 2 May 2015
Time: 05:30am.

Place: Culmore Farm, Bann Road, Coleraine, County Londonderry BT51 5RY

For further details, contact Rachel Bain, Biodiversity Officer,
Ballymoney, Coleraine, Limavady & Moyle Councils

T: 028 7034 7272

Images: dawn/dusk choruses, courtesy of Rachel Bain; wren © Wilbert McIlmoyle; Charles Darwin – public domain; willow warbler © Andeas Trepte; chaffinch © Jim Almond; blackbird © Malene Thyssen; Archaeopteryx © NobuTamura.


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