ORKNEY AT DAWN - BIRDSONG
REVIEW BY TIME DEAN:
Orkney at Dawn
For the last couple of evenings, I’ve counted my blessings. Pulling down the blinds at 6pm, I took to a comfy chair, closed my eyes and listened to ‘Orkney at Dawn’. Immediately the present was banished and I was transported to a timeless summer dawn and the sound of Orkney’s birds.
‘Orkney at Dawn’ has been three years in the making and captures bird song and bird calls at a variety of locations and a number of habitats in the county. Most of the recordings have been made at a time when ‘ordinary’ folk were tucked up in bed. Fiona, however, was at large with her microphone (ME66 Shotgun mic) and MP3 recorder (Roland Edirol) hoping that Orkney’s birds would perform for her.
The resulting 48 minutes of recordings include more than 30 different bird species recorded at the cliffs of Marwick, the shore at Aikerness, the woodland at Woodwick, the burn at Happy Valley, the hedgerows along the Lyde Road, the gardens of Velzian in Rendall and Newtonhill in Stromness. The sea at the Bay of Hinderayre and the Bay of Skaill also has a leading role.
There are seven tracks on ‘Orkney at Dawn’ and on each of the tracks there are background singers and soloists. There are some real stars among the soloists and my personal favourites are the Curlew on ‘Shore’, the Blackbird and Sedge Warbler on ‘Blackie’, the Robin, Redpoll and Willow Warbler on ‘Woodland’ and the Wren on ‘Wrannock’. Fiona has listed 33 species on the CD cover – it’s a real challenge to hear and identify all of them and some of them make very short-lived appearances….but with a pair of headphones it is possible
You might think that her task was largely trouble-free but the very sensitivity of her equipment enabled her to record noises she had no wish to record - often at the most inconvenient moments. For ‘Blackie’, it was necessary to be ready to record at 03.30 in the garden at Velzian in Rendall. However, because of intrusive noises emanating from vehicles, creel boats and wind turbines in Kirkwall (many of these noises were at least ten kilometres away), Fiona had to be an ‘early bird’ on three consecutive mornings in order to get the perfect recording. She assures me she has yet to recover from this ordeal.
Thank you, Fiona, for creating this. Listening to ‘Orkney at Dawn’ is almost better than the real thing; its whetted my appetite and left me asking for more sounds of Orkney. Is Fiona the first to record Orkney’s birds? Her future plans include similar recordings for Shetland and the Cairngorms.