Living in the south-west of London, I am plagued by planes. They fly relentlessly above my head every two minutes, and their heights sometimes so low I can make out the companies logo.
This doesn’t make for an ideal sonic environment when you’re looking to record nature sounds. And for a while I considered recording from a completely different part of London, but in the end I chose not to. The goal this month was to focus on sounds around us. The ones near me include planes and there’s nothing I can do about that.
So I kept an ear open whenever I was out. There were cars roaring past, planes flying low, trains rocketing on their rails, and amongst all of it birds trying to get heard. Just like in this recording.
Riding from home to a friend’s house, I stopped in Battersea Park for a rest. The planes weren’t as loud as in my back garden but they were undeniably there. It was all I could hear until a small bird I never saw called out loudly, almost drowning out the plane for me. My focus shifted in that instant and I listened to the bird refusing to be silenced by motorised transport.
Before long, I had my microphone out and my ears perked up to the quieter sounds surrounding me. There was the bird calling, the rustle of decaying leaves on the oak tree, a pigeon taking flight, and a distant ball game in progress. The planes were still there but their monotonous drone had receded in my awareness, replaced by the richer chorus of nature sounds of Battersea Park on a beautiful Thursday afternoon.