Few words today. I’ll let the nature do the talking.
So sit back and listen to the sounds around Catton Park, Norwich all recorded this morning between 6.00 and 06.45 local time.
My aim was to leave the house before 6am. I managed it with just seconds to spare and headed to Catton Park.
The area known today as Catton Park was originally part of the Catton Estate on the outskirts of Norwich and dates from the 1770s.
Catton Hall, which now houses an uncurated collection of apartments, sits to the side of the park but has no connection to it today other than its history and a rose fence that currently has some aromatic blooms that will later transform into hundreds of plump rose hips.
The park is at its best early morning and again at twilight. The light at both these times is beautiful and you tend to see fewer people.
In the distance I could hear someone calling to their dog, but other than that I had the morning sunshine all to myself. Well, for a little while at least.
By twenty past six more dog walkers had started to arrive, each plotting different directions around the park. I spotted my first jogger who was doing what ever it is joggers do to what ever it is they have on their wrists just prior to running. Yellow shirt. Blue shorts.
Despite the growing numbers of humans, the birds were definitely the dominant species.
I watched a baker’s dozen of starlings gather on the grass before heading into a nearby tree to chatter about the jogger’s wardrobe, before returning to the grass, no doubt to chatter about me, and then back to the tree again.
The wood pigeons seemed to have no interest in the starling’s games or gossip. They just slowly plodded along like ageing beat policemen discussing the weather and food.
In a small glade to the side of the park I spotted a couple of foxglove plants standing very proud. The light wasn’t ideal for taking pictures, but while trying to get as good a shot as I could I was distracted by some rustling in the undergrowth.
A blackbird perhaps, a robin or a wren? Close to my feet I spotted a tiny mouse or vole. I couldn’t get a photograph or a proper look as it quickly beat a retreat when it realised that it had stumbled upon me. Its fur was dark and I don’t recall seeing ears of note, so I’m going to settle for a field vole rather than a field mouse.
Over in the picnic area a gathering of brilliant red poppies drew me. By now the sun light was already starting to be too bright for my phone camera to get a decent picture or for me to stare at too long, so I just stood a while and soaked up everything the park had to offer my other senses.
A large black dog strolled up to me to wish me a good day. I politely returned the greeting and headed home for breakfast.
Spoiler alert – I slept through it.
To be honest I had no plans on getting up that early this morning. My sleep pattern is all over the place at the moment.
I did my first International Dawn Chorus Day in 2013 from the bottom shed in the garden. It required me cutting a hole in the side of the shed in order for me to stick a couple of microphones on a shelf.
I had wires running up to the spare room where they fed into a mixer and then live onto the internet.
The following year I pretty much did the same thing except I don’t think I used the shed studio. Instead the microphones were pointing out of the bedroom window.
Things got very exciting in 2015 as I set up a whole outside broadcast unit on the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Ranworth Broad in Norfolk. It took a good few hours to set up, then a drive home. A very early alarm call and drive back to Ranworth.
After all the excitement in 2015, I was back in my own garden for 2016 International Dawn Chorus Day.
My final International Dawn Chorus Day was the most exciting I’ve done.
It meant setting everything up and then grabbing what sleep I could on the floor of one of the bird hides. It was incredible. You can read about it by clicking these words.
All, apart from the first one I did, were relayed by SoundCamp / REVEIL, which follows the dawn live around the world.
You can hear the various recordings below.
Will I do it again? Probably. Any suggestions for 2021?
I’ve been invited to help on a new project with the Norfolk Wildlife Trust which involves me creating four seasonal soundscapes.
For this first one, Spring, I wanted to get a backdrop of some early morning birdsong in a sunlit bluebell woodland. Sadly the weather Gods had other ideas and I spent a Saturday morning in Foxley Wood in Norfolk slowly being sucked into the rain sodden ground.
I will return when the weather promises to be a little more forgiving, but I thought I’d share my damp, nay sodden, visit with you. Please excuse all the crackles and thuds, it’s rain not static interference!
I also took some photographs to accompany the audio recording.