Isn’t it nice to wake up to the singing of birds. Well, for the last few days, we’ve been waking up to the most sweet singing of the birds at dawn. Dawn, that little divide between the morning and night, when the world has not yet woken up….when the hustle and bustle of daily life has still got a few moments to start. You open your eyes, and, in your still half – sleepy state, your ears are greeted by the sweet singing of the blackbird or the robin or the nightingale or the thrush, to name a few… now, that is pure bliss. And that is what we’ve been experiencing, especially in the last couple of days. This dawn chorus, as it is called, especially in our local woodland, fresh water marsh or grassland, the passerines – or song birds – are living up to their name.
What is the dawn chorus?
Right now, between sunrise and mid-morning, wrens, robins, thrushes and blackbirds (to name but a few) are singing. In your local woodland, fresh water marsh or grassland, the passerines – or song birds – are living up to their name. But why, and what, are they singing?
In general, only the male songbird sings and he is communicating one of two messages – ‘go away!’ or ‘come here!’.
In order to attract a female to mate with him, a male bird has to obtain and defend a territory. This territory will help determine his breeding success by providing him, and his mate, with food. Males claim a territory by singing in it, which tells other males to stay away. They leave gaps in their song to listen to replies, so they can discover where any rivals are and focus their defensive efforts on strangers looking to take over the territory. Some species, such as great tits and chaffinches, have a large repertoire of choruses to convince other males that there are a number of birds in the area and that all the territory is spoken for.
The second reason for the dawn chorus is to advertise for a mate. When doing this, males sing songs that are longer and more complex than the repetitive ones used for territorial defence. Singing is an honest indication to a female of the males quality and fitness because it is an energy intensive activity. If a male has the excess energy to sing a long, loud, complicated song after a night without food, he must be a good, strong forager and live in a productive territory. This is what the females want. A weak, hungry bird will not have the energy to sing such an impressive song. More on the dawn chorus here.
The international dawn chorus day falls on the 4th of May. All around the globe people will be rising early to greet the rising sun and enjoy nature’s daily miracle. Events are organised by local bird and wildlife conservation groups…more info here…check it out…there could be an event near you.
And if the idea of going for a walk in the wee hours does not appeal to you , you can still tune in to the dawn chorus without leaving your bedroom, as we’ve been doing for the last few days…set your alarm very early, about 4 am and open the windows a crack(or open wide,if the weather’s warm) and enjoy the chorus from the comfort of your bed!
After such a sweet start to the day, let’s head back to the kitchen and see what’s in store. I made these potato-cream cheese-methi (fenugreek) parathas (quite a mouthful, eh?) the other day, which we quite liked and so, am sharing with you .
The main ingredients , I must admit, were all leftovers…the cream cheese from here, the methi, from here and the potatoes were the last ones left, and which were ready to sprout any minute! But they all bonded together very nicely with the flour and we enjoyed these soft parathas for dinner. Without more ado, let me cite the recipe…so here goes…
4 small potatoes,boiled and peeled
2 c finely chopped fenugreek/methi leaves
5 tblsp of cream cheese
1 and 1/2 tblsp salt
3 tblsp oil
2 and 1/2 to 3 C wheat flour
- Beat together the potatoes and the cheese till smooth and creamy.
- Add the fenugreek leaves, flour, salt and oil and mix to form a dough ( it will be quite sticky)
- Knead the dough for a few minutes…a floured worktop and floured hands should help.
- Divide the dough into 15-16 portions (shape into balls and slightly flatten them, I did not make them too big) and roll out into discs of about a mm in thickness (note, roll the balls of dough in flour and also the rolling pin to avoid sticking to it) .
- Heat and grease( a non stick spray works great) a pan over medium heat and place a rolled paratha on it.
- Cook for about 11-12 seconds on each side and again for about 4-5 seconds on each side, or till dark brown spots begin to appear.
- Repeat for all the reast of the balls of dough and wrap in foil , if, for later use.
That’s it! We have developed quite a fondness for these soft parathas and wouldn’t mind making them again and again These parathas, accompanied by a dal and some homemade mango pickle ( courtesy: my aunt, all the way from India) were a nice and complete meal, and we rose from the table, quite happy with what we’ve just savoured
Just to let you know that this month’s Think spice is being hosted at Easy crafts and she has chosen cardamom as the spice for this month. So during the month of May, Think spice-think cardamom. Click on the logo in my sidebar for the rules. Check out the round up of last month’s Think spice…think cloves here.
Here’s to a great weekend, wakened each morning by sweet chirpings