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29 October 2014

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Dawn Chorus

You are in: Tyne > Nature > Dawn Chorus > Dawn chorus

Chris Watson

Chris says dawn chorus is like music

Dawn chorus

Top sound recordist Chris Watson tells about recording a dawn chorus in Newcastle and how hearing it is so inspirational.

As an internationally renowned wildlife sound recordist, Chris Watson has travelled all round the world.

His work has featured in a number of David Attenborough's programmes, most recently Life in Cold Blood, and among the locations he has recorded in are Iceland and the Galapagos Islands.

But he believes the dawn chorus at 55 degrees north, which includes Newcastle, is one of the best in the world.

The dawn chorus is when male songbirds sing to attract mates and defend their territories and takes place early morning between March and June.

Chris Watson in the field

Chris out in the field

Variety of birds

Chris said: "I do quite a few talks and one of the things I say is that I travel a lot but I think at our latitude of 55 degrees we have one of the best dawn choruses in the world.

"It is worth making the effort at this time of year."

Chris, who is based in Newcastle, said it is to do with the latitude, the range of habitats, a good density of birds and the relatively short period that birds have to mate and breed.

Chris visited Jesmond Dene, in Newcastle, early one morning in March 2008 to record the dawn chorus.

He found a spot away from the noise of the water with a mixture of trees and habitats so there would be a variety of birds.

He used two small microphones - the kind worn by newsreaders - and put them either end of a wire coathanger and then hung it in a tree.

He then ran a 20 metre cable back so he could sit and record his comments about the dawn chorus without disturbing the birds.

"We can find these sounds in somewhere like Jesmond Dene where thousands of people go every day"

Chris Watson

The birds which can be heard on his recording include songthrushes, blue tits, great tits, robins, wood pigeons, woodpeckers, tawny owls and dunnocks.

Inspiring experience

Chris said: "It's a really nice progression, like a piece of music. At first there are one or two birds but within a minute everything else starts to wake up and join in.

"It changes from nothing through one or two then to this climax. It is an amazing transformation."

Chris believes hearing the dawn chorus can have quite a profound effect. He describes it as a "very refreshing experience" and "inspiring".

He said: "It has this amazing transforming effect.

Blue tit

Blue tits were among the birds recorded

"It just gives you a moment's pause. We are so busy and driven. We hear everything but spend most of our time filtering things out and don't get the opportunity to listen. It can open your ears."

Chris said he knew of dawn chorus recordings being used in hospitals and workplaces, to help with things like problem-solving.

He said he hoped people will take the time to listen to his recordings.

"I just hope that they will enjoy it. It is a celebration of something that happens every spring," he said.

"It also helps us make some sort of connection with the natural world. We can find these sounds in somewhere like Jesmond Dene where thousands of people go every day."

Listen to Chris Watson's dawn chorus recordings by clicking on the links:

last updated: 14/04/2008 at 11:44
created: 07/04/2008

You are in: Tyne > Nature > Dawn Chorus > Dawn chorus

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