Sounds of Nature Project
This Project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage
The Field Club’s Sounds of Nature Project was inspired by a chance encounter in May 2019 between two Assynt Field Club (AFC) members and Clive Davis who was holidaying in Assynt. Clive, who is a member of the Wildlife Sound Recording Society, was making sound recordings of various birds, etc. in the area.
Clive was asked for, and kindly sent, several recordings to Assynt Field Club of Swallows, Twite and Dunlin from Culkein Stoer and underwater sounds from Bay of Culkein. These recordings are now available on our website at the links below.
The mental health benefits of listening to bird song and other sounds of nature have been well reported. Our website is by necessity very visual, both with regards to images and words. The main aim of our project therefore is to make the site, and hence Assynt’s wildlife, more accessible and meaningful for those with a visual impairment.
Following much discussion, the Field Club decided to look for funding to purchase sound recording equipment and training in its use. Our aim was to expand on this exciting way of presenting the wildlife of Assynt to a wider audience.
The Coigach and Assynt Living Landscape Community Grant Scheme was due to enter its final year of funding small local projects in 2020; we submitted a bid on 26 February and on 14 April we were informed that our bid had been successful.
The main items purchased were a ‘Sound Devices MixPre-3 II Audio Recorder’ and a ‘Telinga PRO-X Parabolic Microphone System’. Clive will deliver training in the use of the equipment.
For historical reference our bid was submitted prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic and the resultant travel, etc. restrictions which required a rethink on certain aspects. The training will be done virtually for example.
A second element
In addition to making sound recordings, we aimed, as part of our bid, to stage an audio-visual exhibition in an Assynt venue during the summer of 2020.
This again stemmed from a chance encounter in January 2018 between AFC members and another visitor, albeit this time a professional artist, Keith Salmon.
Keith, who lives in Irvine, Ayrshire, is a visually impaired artist and part of his recent work has included a Painting with Sound project based around Kylesku. This consists of five 120cm x 120cm oil paintings, and a stereo soundtrack. As a viewer looks at the paintings and moves around them, different elements of the soundtrack are heard through speakers. The soundtrack consists of recordings made, by Keith and his wife Nita, at several locations along the coast line at Kylesku.
We had arranged for Keith to bring this exhibition to Assynt for 4 weeks and host it in An Cala’s Marine Room during July. The Covid-19 Pandemic meant this part of the project being put back to May 2021.
Our aims with the exhibition were to raise awareness of not only AFC’s project but also the wider concept of listening to nature and the mental health benefits that doing so can offer.
At the time of writing we have taken delivery of our own recording equipment and it will now be a steep learning curve in its use for a few people.
Until we are competent in its use the links below will take you to the sound recordings mentioned earlier made by Clive Davis.
Although not part of the project we intend to leave these links here as they are the reason why this project came about.
Sounds of Nature – Twite at Culkein Stoer (Clive Davis, May 2019)
Sounds of Nature – Dunlin at Bay of Culkein (Clive Davis, May 2019)
Sounds of Nature – Swallows at Culkein Stoer (Clive Davis, May 2019)
Sounds of Nature – Bay of Culkein Hydrophones (Clive Davis, May 2019)
Sounds of Nature – Red Deer stag during rut (David Haines, October 2020)
Sounds of Nature – Early Autumn Birds (David Haines, September 2020)
Sounds of Nature – Birds and waves, Loch Dhrombaig (David Haines, August 2020)