Earth Music, St George’s, Bristol

Many more amazing concerts, talks and screenings this week at Earth Music Festival, St George’s Bristol, a festival of music inspired by the natural world. Many bird-related events including a performance of Messiaen’s Catalogue of Birds for solo piano performed by Peter Hill, who’s recording of this work was made under Messiaen’s supervision. This concert on Wednesday is preceded by a talk by conservationist Laurence Rose, top executive at the RSPB.

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Twitchr walk at dawn…

Well – a few of us decided to get up super early and go back to Ham Wall for 6am Sunday morning… and we were hugely rewarded by the awesome sight of 600 000 Starlings getting up and leaving their roost… We joined up with Tony again, who was brilliant at identifying species by their call. We stopped and listened to the reeds en route to where we knew the starlings were roosting and heard the clear beautiful song of the cetti’s warblers, the pig-like screeching of water rail, the subtle bleating sounds of snipe, and the familiar quacking laugh of the mallards. As we approached the reedbed full of starlings – a bustling white noise started to occupy the sonic background – which grew and grew in volume… we found a good spot and set equipment up… here is Tony recording with Mark, Mark and Jon, watching and taking pictures.

and further along – here is Matt Davies with his audio setup

Here is a still frame from the video I shot.

and here is the stunning recording made by Tony – listen to it all the way through… it’s amazing.

The recording is also on the twitchr map if you zoom into the area just west of Glastonbury and just south of Meare and press play.

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Weekend Twitchr walk

Thanks to everyone who came along to the Twitchr walk on Saturday – it was a wonderful and enjoyable experience – and the starlings certainly did not disappoint! It was a beautiful day, and  fantastic to have Tony Whitehead with us who gave us plenty of interesting facts not only about the starlings, but many other birds we came across on the way, along with some of the history of the somerset levels and the work of the RSPB. We were also joined by Richard Barnard, a composer who works with transcriptions of birdsong – and many interesting conversations circulated around the group, and I even managed to make some cranberry flapjacks to pass around too. Some top facts that I can remember… many of the Starling flock will have travelled over from Northern Europer and Scandinavia to spend a milder winter in the UK; starlings do their ‘murmuration’ at dusk to generate a bit of heat before they roost, and also as a signal to other starlings that – ‘This is the Place! – Get Over HERE!’… and therefore the flock gets bigger and bigger and one of the main functions of them all getting together en masse is for information sharing. New birds joining the flock will look out for the healthy well fed birds, and then follow them in the morning to find out where the good food is.

Aswell as 600 000 Starlings, we were amazed at the amount of people who turned up to watch – must have been aout 150, just at the spot we were at. Luckily – the view of the sky is always good, no matter how tall the person in front of you is! We wondered if the starlings are fascinated by the strange behaviour of the humans who travel from miles around to stand together at dusk at this time of year… they have no idea why they do it – but it certainly is worth getting together to have a look….The huge gathering of humans might have also had something to do with the Starling flock being featured on Autumn Watch last Thursday…. (still on iplayer).

here are some pics…

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Starling Walk Meeting Point

If you are coming along to the Starling walk tomorrow – here are the details…

The starlings are currently roosting at RSPB site Ham Wall. Here are the details of how to get there… (it is about a 1 hour drive from Bristol)

Firstly – I need to fill you in on a few practical details… It seems like starling watching is getting more and more popular  - which is great – but this means there is less room in the reserve’s carpark! Ashcott road currently has traffic cones along each side of it – so it’s not possible to park there if the carpark is full. If the carpark is totally full up when you arrive – you could go over to Glastonbury and enter the reserve from the other side. There are only about 3 spaces at this entrance, but more are available on the road further up or down – but this means more walking from your car to the reserve. Or park further away and make time for a nice walk to the reserve.

Ham Wall is a really wonderful place for a walk and look around - so it would be a great idea to get yourselves there as early as you can.

On the map below – ‘Viewing Point 2′ is about 20 minutes walk from the carpark on Ashcott rd, and also about 20 minutes walk from the Glastonbury entrance to the reserve (Sharpham Lane).

I will be at the Ashcott road entrance to the reserve at 2:45pm to then walk to ‘viewing point 2′,  but – just incase we are dispersed around the site, or parked at different places  - I suggest we aim to be at ‘Viewing Point 2′  at 3:15pm…

the starlings will start coming in from around 15:45 / 16:00  - but they could be earlier or later.

The footpath is flat and easy to walk along, but wear suitable walking shoes, wrap up warm, bring some water, or a flask of something warmer…

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Twitchr Starling Walk, November 2011

Following up the 2009 Starling walk on the Somerset Levels – we are organising a re-run to coincide with the Earth Music Festival, St George’s, Bristol

19th November 2:45pm  - The Somerset Levels … here’s the flyer for info.. SIGN UP!

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Sound:Site images

Presenting and launching this new version of Twitchr at Sound:Site Sonic Arts Festival, was a great success.

I presented a short talk to introduce the concept of the piece, and gave an overview of its history and development. Thankfully, the rain held off long enough for us to go out to record some birdsong, and then upload it onto the map. You will find a cluster of audio uploads on the twitchr map around South Hill Park, Bracknell. (West of London, in between the M4 and M3).

We were joined on the walk by Marlies, a warden for South Hill Park, and fortunately very knowledgeable about birds. She pointed out which birds were calling, and why they might be making certain calls.

Here are a selection of photos from the walk.

The twitchr walk embarking, South Hill Park.

Paul Whitty, Ian from the London Sound Survey, and Simon Whetham on the twitchr walk

Felicity Ford getting ready to record sounds on the twitchr walk

Patrick McGinley and Felicity Ford on the twitchr walk

Simon Whetham and Felicity Ford listening to and recording sounds on the twitchr walk

Jan Hendrickse listening to and recording sounds on the twitchr walk

Sarah Nicolls listening to and recording sounds on the twitchr walk

Shirley Pegna chatting to Ed Holroyd on the twitchr walk

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Sound:Site Festival

We will be presenting and launching this new version of Twitchr at Sound:Site Sonic Arts Festival, South Hill Park, tomorrow – Saturday 2nd October 2010

This will include a short walk around the Park with audio recording equipment – so we can make new uploads to the map on the day.

More information about Sound:Site Sonic Arts Festival:

Talks and demonstrations exploring the Internet as a destination for making and showing artwork, for sharing sounds, bringing communities together, and curating sonic experiences. Sound:Site brings together a set of exciting projects from in and around the Sound Art community, framing contemporary practice and emerging online/offline possibilities.

Taking place in the splendid Georgian mansion that is home to South Hill Park, one of the UKʼs longest surviving regional arts centreʼs. The venue lies 25 miles West of London in the Thames Valley in Berkshire.

Featuring:
 Chris Clark, Head of Digital Research, British Library “UK Sound Map”
 The exciting new project being rolled out by the British Library to catalogue the sonic experience of the UK in the 21st Century.

Patrick McGinley “Framework”
Artist and broadcaster whose “Framework” radio show airs on Resonance FM and syndicates across Europe, acts as a hub for the global field recording and phonography community.

Kathy Hinde & Ed Holroyd “Twitchr”
The artists will talk through the concept and technical details of their “Twitter meets bird spotting” project “Twitchr” and then take everyone out to the Park for a live demo.

9 x 5 Micro-Presentations
 A 9 x five minute info-burst from the community. Artists and instigators of web-based sound projects outline their approaches and challenges. Featuring: SoundFjord Gallery, Soundart Radio 102.5FM, Joe Stevens, Audio Gourmet Net Label, London Sound Survey

Felicity Ford & Paul Whitty “Sound Diaries”
Recording life in sound. Project of Oxford Brookes Universityʼs Sonic Arts Research Unit
Performance: 7.00pm
 “Framework 250 Remixed” Live sonic performance from artists who feature on “Framework 250′′ the recent definitive CD collection of phonography-based work, with Patrick McGinley, Simon Whetham, Jonathan Coleclough.

Venue: South Hill Park, Bracknell, RG12 7PA. UK
Box Office: Tel 01344 484123
Sound:Site – Sonic Arts Festival Date: Saturday 2nd October
 Time: 10.00-5.30pm / 7.00pm evening concert 
Tickets: £26.00 / £18.00 (students/membs) Box Office: 01344 484123

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New Twitchr

I’m just putting the finishing touches to new Twitchr. The big change is that we have added the ability to upload your own recordings of bird sounds using Audioboo. You just have to add the tag ‘twitchr’ to your Audioboo upload. These sounds are then played on the map with the music box notes. While making these changes, I’ve really enjoyed listening to the soundscapes that emerge from the map and I have kept the map playing in the background while developing other areas of the site.

This version of Twitchr uses version 3 of the Google Maps API. The old version used version 2. It also uses the most recent versions of jQuery and SoundManager.

The previous version of Twitchr is still online, but I have deactivated the upload form.

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Twitchr Starling Walk Nov 2009

The first Twitchr walk took place on the Somerset levels on Sunday 15th november 2009 for the launch of Twitchr version 1 for the somersetarts.com online gallery. I invited Dr. Lisa Thomas, an environmental scientist, how has worked extensively on the someset levels in the past doing surveys and other research. Lisa gave us a short an interesting talk about the levels, and then we settled in to watch the starlings perform. Here are some pictures from the walk

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