How getting up at 3am in May for a vist to the ancient woods of Sheffield is worth the trouble. (Whole story available for full subscribers only).
Dawn was far too late a start for Chris Watson. With our night vision head torches, high tech surveillance equipment and stealth legwear to avoid detection while creeping through the bushes of Ecclesall Woods, Chris whispered his instructions to us all at the side of a silent Abbey Lane, and at 3.30 am the Circle of Fire team headed off into the woods.
Bafta winning Chris Watson is one of the world's most respected location wildlife sound recordists. He's captured Sidewinder Snakes in the African desert, elephant migrations in Zimbabwe, the sound of a million flamingos, and Tanzanian Crocodiles eating Wildebeest.
And to some of us in the darkened woods, his early career as a founder member of local musical experimentalists Cabaret Voltaire in the very early days of new wave electronic music was just as impressive as his membership of David Attenborough’s wildlife documentary sound team. Over recent years he’s been out at all hours of day and night recording Britain for the Wild Isles series.
But on the Sunday morning I met him ten years ago, he was setting out to record the dawn chorus in Ecclesall Woods for his 'Inside the Circle of Fire' sound map exhibition at the Millennium Gallery for Sheffield Museums. The day before he’d been out even earlier, recording Snipe, Red Grouse and Curlews on the city’s western moors.
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