Coquetdale, Wildlife Trust

Cheviot Hills
Cheviot Hills

Sounds of nature

The Coquetdale Branch of the Wildlife Trust was treated to a very interesting illustrated talk with wonderful sound recordings, entitled The Borders and Beyond by Geoff Sample.

Geoff has been recording the sounds of wildlife in Northern England, principally in Northumberland, for 25 years. This is due to the need for unpolluted sound recordings, which are easily disrupted by background noises elsewhere, such as traffic.

He talked about the difficulties of achieving excellent recordings and how often he was surprised by the sounds he heard. He explained how upon checking the recording he would hear sounds that he didn’t notice during the recording.

Geoff has specialised in bird vocal communication due to its amazing variety. He demonstrated this by playing an Artic tern screeching either as a warning or in the mating season. He also played recordings of long eared owls and swans, as well as others.

Amongst the mammals of Northern England Geoff explained that the most vocal are grey seals. It is only the females who truly ‘sing’, the males tend to simply slap the ground with their flippers, while the pups make a very human moan.

He played recordings of barking roe deer and red deer in the rutting season, which includes repeated grunts. Even smaller mammals, such as red squirrels and hedgehogs, are included, the former chattering and scratching, the latter making a big ‘puff’ sound while mating.

Geoff even has recordings of the insect world, although he explained that for the best chorus one needs to travel to France to hear the crickets.

Geoff’s fascination with sounds and nature was evident and we all felt we needed to stand still and listen, as we rarely do, to the wonderful sounds to be found in our countryside.

The next talk is on October 5, The Hera of Northumberland by Chris Metherell.