International Dawn Chorus Day: The Birds and the (Bubble)bees

Started in the 1980s in Birmingham, UK, International Dawn Chorus Day has grown to be enjoyed, well, internationally as a celebration of the ever-changing soundscape around us. As such, it was certainly not going to be dampened by 2020's life-altering lockdowns and there were of course many who took advantage of the quieter skies to record the morning chorus where they were.

Held on Sunday 3rd of May, Dawn Chorus day encourages anyone with an interest in recording to get out their gear, grab their Windbubbles and record the sunrise chorus of birds, insects and animals. In previous years there have been walking expeditions planned around the world to escape into nature as a group and appreciate the sounds, though this year those who couldn't make it into the great outdoors took a different tack; recording pretty much anything they had access to, and share their soundscape with the world.

Ambient Isolation, a sound project started by Al Sirkett in London, involved itself in the event by inviting sound recordists from around the world to submit a minute-long recording from where they were. These recordings were stitched together following their geographical position and in effect you can now listen to the dawn chorus as you follow the sunrise from east to west around the globe.

Jack Lowe

Jack Lowe is based in Newcastle upon Tyne but spends several months of the year travelling on the coast working on "The Lifeboat Station Project", an 8-year art project taking him to all 238 RNLI lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland. He took part in Ambient Isolation's Dawn Chorus compilation, recording sunrise on the 25th of April. He says:

"Following a tip from my wife, who’s quite a wildlife expert, I left the gear out in the garden for a couple of days so that the birds could get used to it. So, when it came to the prescribed morning of Saturday 25 April for us all to make our recordings around the globe, I felt as ready as I could be. I got up at 4am and carried the equipment into the garden. There was a very slight breeze, so I felt confident the Windbubbles would handle that, which they did."

Jack Lowe Recording International Dawn Chorus Day setup

"I made a stereo recording using two DPA 6060s connected to my Sound Devices MixPre-3 II. I left the equipment in situ and went back into the house so that I didn’t disturb the wildlife. I left a window open so that I could hear the sounds and keep notes of points of interest, some of which I tweeted live:"

"It all worked out well — to my ears, anyway — and there were points in the final recording where the birds were clearly so familiar with the set up that you can even hear them fluttering right between the mics!"

Listen to one of Jack's contributions here:

Check out his Soundcloud channel for more great recordings and follow him on Twitter here.

Matthew Tuckey

Matthew Tuckey also hails out of Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK. A Sound Designer working in the theatre industry, with the ambience and effects recordings he often undertakes, one could more aptly refer to him as a Sound Artist. We asked Matthew about his recording setup for International Dawn Chorus day and he furnished us with the following information:

"I’ll find any excuse to make a soundscape recording, and lockdown seems to have dramatically lowered human-made noise pollution. Amongst the global turmoil, this seemed like a wonderful opportunity to celebrate something so naturally beautiful as the dawn chorus!"

Matthew George Tuckey recording setup for Dawn Chorus Day

"My setup was quite simple – a Sony D100 recording an AB pair of LOM Usi Pros with their BBI Windbubbles mounted on a Manfrotto stand. The Windbubbles are absolutely essential when recording outside – period. There was generally a bit of a breeze and the odd strong gust caused me some challenges in post."

Listen to one of Matthew's contributions here:

Also be sure to follow Mr Tuckey on Instagram - @thesoundportrait.

Pics from around the world...

From the Bubblebee crew

Here's a little something to sign off with from the Bubblebee team - recorded in Wienerwald on the evening of International Dawn Chorus Day... a dusk chorus, then, along with a short timelapse as the light fades in the forest and a light rain begins to fall:

Here's the long version in 24bit/96kHz raw audio:

Get involved in Dawn Chorus 2021:

Stay ahead of the curve and don't miss out on taking part in International Dawn Chorus Day 2021 - which falls on the 2nd of May. We look forward to hearing the results!