Intrigued by the sounds coming from the local farm, I spent time this month recording various audio clips that I have used to create an edited piece called “Slurry“. It not only features sounds from nature, but also includes some more unusual “noises” from mechanical devices on the farm. All part of the soundscape at Girrick in June.
My fascination with the quality of the various sounds was perhaps matched by an equal measure of curiosity from those working on the farm; puzzled by the bizarre sight of me (with my recording equipment) – standing by the roadside as cattle were herded along the lane, following tractors into yards and keeping a very safe distance whilst slurry was being transferred.
The mechanical sounds of both slurry mixer and vaccum pump on the tanker were ideally suited to creating a more “abstract” sound piece in post-production. If you can, listen on headphones – a definite change of tone!
Thanks to all those at Girrick farm for allowing me to capture an aspect of their busy schedule in June.
For a few weeks in early May, drifting in and out of sleep during the wee small hours, I had been listening to the sound of birdsong in the comfort of my warm bed. I decided (a little reluctantly) to rise very early and record the dawn chorus in all its full magnitude. Setting my alarm for 3.30am I emerged sleepily from my bed……but was disappointed to find that the showers of April were downpours in May:
A second try a few days later was thwarted by the wind:
On my third early morning I was in luck. The weather was perfectly still and dry.
I recorded a full 20 minutes with only the occassional interuptions by distant cars or a plane flying overhead. I have condensed this into a 5 minute clip, with minimal editing – just extracting key phases of the chorus and crossfading the clips.
Listen and enjoy without the need to be out of bed at dawn!
The daylight hours of May have also seen a lot of bird activity in the garden, including an intriguing little nest high up in the Birch tree. I think it is a Chaffinch, but hard to tell from below.
A Spotted flycatcher has been investigating the birdbox, but doesn’t seem to have taken up residence as yet …….
… and various birds have been bathing in the pond or the shallow birdbath on the decking.
There were also a few rare moments of dramatic lighting this month.
April seems to be the month that nature really begins to emerge from the “quietness” of its winter shell. Plant life responds with new life and the budding process abounds. Bees visit early blossoms and birds sing out their varied songs.
Last year in early April, at the start of lockdown, I began the practice of sketching one emerging bud in the garden each day.
Sketches of emerging buds - Pencil with watercolour wash
This year I have been busy listening to the range of sounds that fill the air. Some, that really represent this month, have proved difficult to capture. I didn’t have my recording equipment the day I sat quietly by the fence and heard the sound of cows munching on fresh grass, having returned to the fields with their new calves. Next time I went out with my recorder, the cows were far away in the valley!
I did, however, create a small soundscape, in an attempt to encapsulate some of the other sounds that typify April. Listening on headphones will give you the full effect, hopefully immersing you in the sense of Spring.
A regular occurence in March – a gang of frogs appear from nowhere and, for a few weeks, “occupy” the pond in front of Studio Hundy. Their characteristic “croaking” can be heard from afar, as you walk down the garden approaching the pond. As they pick up your presence, this transforms into a multitude of “plopping” sounds as all the frogs dive below the surface. For a few minutes, until they gradually emerge again, the only visual evidence of their presence is the large clumps of spawn laying on, or just below the surface.
I managed to capture the croaking chorus by placing my field recorder on the edge of the pond, hiding in the studio, and using a remote extension. It also captures other characteristic Sounds of March in the background!
As the snow and freezing temperatures from the East gradually subided, melt water filled the local brook – the Eden water – bringing some beautiful sights and sounds. A short composite of two field recordings captures the richness of those sounds:
Icicles formed on Alder, growing in abundance on the banks, dipping their branches into the undulating currents of the now fast flowing stream.
Frozen pools on the valley floor created the unique patterns that only nature can offer.
The sound and movement of the water, in the quietness of a cold February day, inspired me to make a short video.
I have experimented here; bringing together the video footage with a multi-layered voice recording and nature sounds. The latter being recorded in situ with my hand-held Zoom H5 audio equipment.