What if we went out at 5am in Spring to be met with silence? No glorious dawn chorus. A silent spring. A truly chilling thought.
But there is a story of hope here at Knepp.
My residency tells the audio story of the scrubland. Much demonised, it is in fact the richest habitat on this planet. Poor yielding arable land has turned into thorny scrubland, home of increasing numbers of Nightingales and Turtle Doves, facing cataclysmic declines elsewhere.
Knepp Estate is a leading light for conservation in the UK, demonstrating how giving nature space and opportunity to express itself can restore the land and its wildlife in a dramatically short space of time. In her inspiring book ‘Wilding’, Isabella Tree takes you through this pioneering rewilding journey.
Inspired by soundscape ecology – the sense that you can hear the health of a landscape – I am recording the sounds of rewilding, particularly the rich tapestry of the dawn chorus and the sonorous Nightingale. I am sharing these sounds – livestreaming from the scrubland for the international Reveil project (see photo above); uploading recordings to xeno-canto and dawn-chorus; sharing on SoundCloud and social media – see Knepp Nightingale Radio below; archiving recordings to The British Library collection.
The residency’s performative element – #LoveScrubland – challenges the demonising of scrubland: painting the arcs of bramble with clay slip; bringing dance and movement artist Maria da Luz and film-maker Olga Saavedra Montes de Oca to respond to the Knepp scrubland at dawn.
To find out more, I was interviewed for the Knepp Wildland Podcast on Soundscapes by resident ecologist Penny Green in 2023. Tune in on your usual podcast provider such as Apple, Spotify, Podcast Addict…you can find the full podcast here.