Sounds of October

Dreich & Hygge!

Autumn leaves – veiling watercolour 2021

Light changes, weather shifts as autumn takes hold of the year. The greens and yellows of summer gradually turn into warm reds and oranges. Often wet and windy with intermittent days of calm, soft sunlight.

My soundscape this month tells a short story of transition. It parallels the change that can also occur in our relationship to the world at this time of year; from outer to inner focus – our desire for warmth and comfort, as we experience the cold and wet outside. At an onomatopoeic level – from dreich to hygge.

Listen on headphones for the best effect.

A sound story – Dreich to Hygge

The warm colours of autumn moving into earthy rich browns, and the glow of fire embers in the dark chamber of the woodburner, remind me of the colours and contrasts often seen in many Rembrandt paintings.

A free study of Rembrandt colours – chalk pastel on black paper

Sounds of September

Honks, barks, and cackles – heralding autumn

Cooler days have arrived and there is a definite autumnal feel in the air. The regular sight and sound of skeins of geese has now started. It is an indication that summer is truly over. These flypasts will become a more frequent occurrence, louder and with greater numbers, as we enter into October. Sometimes the geese fly in their characteristic V formation at a distance, to the north or south of our house, and occasionally (if we are lucky) immediately overhead.

Skein of Geese – watercolour sketch 2021

I have wanted to record the very particular “calling” sound of these birds for some time now, and was fortunate enough to have my sound gear at the ready this year.

I was also interested to visit a local loch where, I was told, the geese often congregate in the evening. So at the weekend we walked to Hule Loch, located on exposed moorland between Greenlaw and Duns. Sitting in the small hide we were able to take in the panoramic view of the loch, its multiplicity of birds and the surrounding hills. The colours and light changed so dramatically during the short time we were there, as the wind blew, the rain came in from the west and cleared again.

Although the sound of the wind was quite dominant inside the hide, I was able to capture several minutes of audio to bring back to Studio Hundy.

I have created a September sound piece encompassing 3 phases: over our house – a large skein flying in from the east and away to the west; from the hide – a small group of birds on the loch taking flight; and finally (also from the hide) – a large skein of geese coming in to land.

Geese soundscape

The latter was a fascinating occurence as the large cluster of birds seemed to ungainly drop down onto the surface of the water in a random manner, like some kind of precipitation out of the sky! As they landed onto the water their “cries” diminished, until eventually the loud cacophony of sound gave way to an occasional “squawk” or honk.

It’s a sharp sound to listen to, and at the same time incredibly beautiful – also so unmistakable!

Geese in flight (pastel) – sketchbook 2012

Mists & mellow fruitfulness

Days grow short now

September is well underway.  Harvested golden fields shine out across the landscape.  Early morning mists and dew fall on cobwebs like glistening jewels.

Bird song has changed – the robin and the blue-tit seem to sing a different tone; or perhaps I’m just noticing them more?  An occasional skein of geese fly over our house, with their evocative calls, echoing in the still cool air.   And the fruiting process in our garden abounds.

The abundance of summer is gradually drawing to a close – so wonderfully depicted in Keats’ poem:

To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
  Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
  With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage trees,
  And fill all fruits with ripeness to the core;
   To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
  With sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
  Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimmed their clammy cells.

Verse 1 of 3
John Keats 1819

Rowan - giving in bounteous plenty Oil-on-paper
Rowan in autumn  – Bounteous plenty        Oil-on-paper

Rowans are often stripped of their berries by this time of year, but those that remain “glow” against the gradually turning foliage.


And the late flowering Rudbekia shines out in the darkening evening light.

For me autumn flowers bring a sense of hope and promise of the Spring to come, as the days grow short and the earth prepares to “close down” inwardly for winter.