Bird watching

28 March 2010

My experience of nature goes back to when I was about 8 years old, when I had many encounters with very ill or dead animals. The dead animals were buried by my friends and I, using twigs, mowed grass, mud, stones and dandelions in a secret location (the neighbours large garden) at the end of my street. The ill animals, including a rabbit, frog, two baby sparrows, a starling and a tree full of caterpillars didn’t end well either… so when I was asked what I wanted to be when I was older, I choose the artist option rather than to be a vet.

As a sound artist, creating site specific soundscapes, I find inspiration from my surroundings and have been inspired by the bird songs that I hear in the city, the park and my garden.

I have recently joined a WEA bird watching course in Nottingham and became a member the RSPB (Royal Society for the protection of birds) and LROS (Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithology Society). The bird watching course is designed to develop skills in being able to identify local birds (birdsong and behaviour) and distinguish between resident birds and winter visitors and to competently use a field guide and identify bird watching locations within the East Midlands.

To encourage birds into my garden I have added three bird feeders and plan to add a fourth which will have a built in wireless CCTV camera, so that I am able to closely observe the birds and record their movements.  So far I have spotted a wood pigeon who comes to feed at least three times a week… and the black cat from next door.

Wireless CCTV bird box
Wireless CCTV Bird box
Wood pigeon feeding from bird table
Greedy cat

Walk to work…

I find inspiration in my surroundings and have found the walk from my home to Leicester train station inspiring due to the range of wildlife living in the Grand Union Canal.  I feel I have developed a relationship with the area, its birds and walkers through documenting moments in time using photography, binaural recordings and as scribbled notes, remembering brief encounters and short conversations with walkers, cyclists, commuters and nature lovers.

Its easy to stick the ipod on to encourage a fast walking pace and make that 8.54 am train (and most days I do), but recently I have felt increasingly connected to the area, slowing my pace and walking close to the edge of the canal to identify certain breeds and observe their behaviour.  I have felt the need to experience the environment both visually and aurally instead of blocking out the natural soundscape.  I have identified five types of bird; these are the Mute Swan, Feral Pigeon, Coot, Canada Goose and Mallard (duck).

The sociable pigeon
The chatty mallard
The tame swan
The nervous coot
The waddling goose

Lucy Stevens’ artistic practice examines the acoustic ecology of the natural environment, using field recording, digital illustration, performance and printmaking as a tool to visualise sound produced by wildlife, weather and other natural phenomena.

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