Dawns to brighten your day
When life gets busy, it can sometimes be difficult to become a morning lark. But when you open your windows, feel the freshness of the early hours, gaze at a sun-streaked sky and tune in to the dawn chorus, you might never want to have another lie-in.
In Welsh, 'dawns' means 'to dance', and that's exactly what the sky does in the early hours of the morning. Sunlight reaches out over the horizon, in a move that's sure to transform the sky before your very eyes. As the mornings are getting lighter, use those extra hours to appreciate the golden hour that's waking up wildlife wherever you are. Wake up early to see how the dawn colours transform the appearance of your street, or glimpse a bird or two playing in your back garden. Falling in love with the morning never seemed so easy.
During April, sunrise times vary between 6.30am at the start of the month and 5.30am towards the end. In May, the sun rises at 5.30am at the beginning of the month and 5am towards the end.
In this article, you'll find out about:
- The dawn chorus of birdsong
- Some of our favourite dawn views
- Depictions of dawns in works of art from our collections
- DAWNS: A first-light musical performance that took place on Saturday 16 May
If you want to know more about dawn wildlife, check out Every Day Nature written by Andy Beer.
Have you ever wondered which birds are in your garden? Could they be chaffinches, robins or blackbirds? Check out our article on different birds you can hear wherever you are and for tips on how to spot them in your garden.
A display of dawns for armchair viewing
The Needles Headland, Isle of Wight
The lake at Croome Park, Worcestershire
Sunrise over the avenue at Avebury, Wiltshire
Sunrise over Whitburn Coastal Park near Souter Lighthouse, Tyne & Wear
Sunrise over Pillbox pond at Sheffield Park, East Sussex
Nature's palette – what makes the sky go red?
When the sun is low on the horizon the light travels through more of the atmosphere towards us than it does during the rest of the day. Because of the nature of the molecules, more of the shortwave blue wavelengths are scattered aside than other wavelengths in the colour spectrum, and the light appears red or orange to us.
The same effect occurs whenever light takes a long path through the atmosphere before it reaches our eyes. For example, if a layer of cloud extends almost to the horizon, the distant strip of sky that remains visible just below it will frequently look orange or red.
Curious about the weather? Check out How to Read the Weather by Storm Dunlop. Our online and in-store shops are closed for now, but you can still browse for ideas for when we open our doors again.
A first-light musical performance
From 3.43am on Saturday 16 May, in collaboration with artists non zero one, we welcomed dawn with a unique musical experience.
As daylight swept across the country from the North East to the South West, six performers from six locations across the UK collaborated to perform a specially composed piece of music.
Thousands of people listened live online and joined a national moment of connection with nature and each other, taking part in a shared experience of dawn.
Cat (far right of image) is one of the four artists that make up non zero one, the creators behind DAWNS. The performance will begin from John O’Groats at 3:43am with Cat’s narration.
Daniel is a soloist, collaborative artist who has performed with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. As sunlight reaches Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire, at 4:07am, Daniel will add his violin.
Laura’s music straddles experimental, chamber, folk and early medieval worlds, improvising and composing for violin and double recorder. Laura will join from Leeds, West Yorkshire, at 4:16am.
By 4:25am the light will reach Coleraine, Northern Ireland, and Manu Delago. Manu is a Grammy-nominated percussionist and composer. He has been Björk’s touring drummer since 2011.
Huw is a pianist and composer working in jazz, world and contemporary music. Recipient of the BBC Jazz Award for Innovation, Huw will add the notes of the piano from Glamorgan, from 4:38am.
Lastly the sound of Ruth's harp will join from Fowey, Cornwall, at 4:49am for the climax of the performance. Ruth performs on concert and lever harps, Renaissance bray harp and Gaelic wire strung harp.
National Trust Podcast episode 77: DAWNS and the dawn chorus
In this podcast episode we go behind the scenes of DAWNS to discover how one of the Trust’s most ambitious musical mass participation events came to fruition. We also meet Andy Beer, author of Every Day Nature, who shares his top tips on how to grow a deeper understanding and appreciation of the dawn chorus.