Nature Sound of the Month – Final goodbyes and August round-up

Annoucement

As mentioned last month, August was the last challenge to be issued for Nature Sound of the Month.

A year has gone since the challenge was launched and the first theme was released. It’s been a lot of fun to listen to your sounds and sonic memories, but it is time to end this challenge. New projects are about to be launched and demand too much of my attention. I simply don’t have the time to maintain this challenge running.

With Nature Sound of the Month, I wanted to broaden your experience of the outdoors by asking you to listen. Too many outdoors challenges ask you to focus on what you see rather than what you hear. And while visuals can be stunning they are not always present, nor do they necessarily align with beautiful sounds. When you close your eyes, your perception of a place change. What was the best scenery can turn into nothing much, and vice versa. My quest open ears if not over however. It is simply undergoing a change of format.

I want to thank everyone who shared the challenge along the way and sent contribution, in the forms of recordings or words. It’s been fantastic to discover people’s interpretation of the themes.

I hope you have enjoyed the challenge as much as I did.

But before I close this challenge for good, there is one last round-up to complete. Here it is.

August round-up

Last month, the nature sound of the month focused on the sounds of your holidays and rest days. Here is what has been captured:

Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad (Return Trip)
Recorded by Vince Hancock.


Recorded by Jonathan.


Recorded by me.

What have you been listening to this past August?

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Nature Sound of the Month: Holidays and rest days

A huge thank you to everyone who took part in the challenge last month. I hope you’ve enjoyed capturing your sounds as much as I’ve enjoyed listening to them. Check out the round-up of sounds from listening to the weather in the previous post today.

Announcement

Last September, I launched the first theme of Nature Sound of the Month. I wanted to create a challenge that broadened your experience of the outdoors by asking you to listen. Many people have shared their sounds and stories of sounds throughout the year, and I am grateful for those. But it is now time to bid farewell to this challenge. It has run its course and new projects await. So for the last time this year, I am setting a theme to help you listen to the world around you. I hope you have enjoyed the challenge as much as I did.

Theme of the month: Holidays and rest days

School breaks, annual leave, or just a week-end away, August is always a bit different from the rest of the year. There is a lightness to the air and a carefree attitude in people. Even if you are working, holidays are in the air.

This month, take the opportunity to discover new places by going away from home or stepping in a new part of town. What nature sounds can you hear? Is it the crashing of the waves, the crickets in the grass, the birds overhead, or something else entirely?

So this month, wherever you are, I’m asking you to pay attention to the nature sounds of your holidays and rest days.

What is it about?

There are many challenges out there to help you make the most of the outdoors, but more often than not they focus on what you see rather than what you hear. Visuals can certainly be stunning but they are not always present. Close your eyes and the scenery is gone. This is not so with sounds. You cannot close off your ears. You can ignore the sounds but they are here nonetheless and some part of you are registering them. So this challenge focuses on sounds, specifically nature sounds, and asks you to get out there and record them.

How does it work?

On the 1st of every month, I’ll publish a post with a prompt for what to listen to. This prompt is aimed to help you open your ears to nature and is by no means a rule to follow. You can record something else if another sound picks your interest.

Continue reading

Nature Sound of the Month – July round-up

Last month, the nature sound of the month focused on the weather, asking you to listen to the elements around you. Here is what has been captured:


Recorded by Tiadeets.


Recorded by StillWalks.


Recorded by StillWalks.


Recorded by StillWalks.


Recorded by me.

Other nature sounds that caught my ear in July:
by Andrus Kannel

by Jeremy Hegge

by Reuben Derrick

What have you been listening to this past July?

#30DaysWild – Week 03

Make room for nature!

This is a cry from The Wildlife Trusts, urging us to remember nature and pay attention to it during our everyday life. Nature isn’t something to be enjoyed during our time off and lose sight of when we fall back into our daily routine. It is a home that needs to be nurtured and taken care of constantly. But this, is too easy to forget.

So this month, I, and hundreds of people across the British isles have pledged to be a little more wild. Here is what I chose to do during the second week. Catch up with week 01 here, and week 02 here. For daily update, follow me on Instagram or Twitter.

Day 15

I moved to Bristol in winter and at the time, the part of my commute photographed above was barren. It was a tangle of branches, the browns and greys of the barks mixing with the fences and buildings around. I could see robins dart about or stay still on a tree. And I wondered… How would all this look in Summer? It is like a tunnel of leaves, green overpowering the grey of the tarmac and engulfing the fences around. The buildings are lost to me making me forget I’m in a city. Birds darts in between trees but I only see them in flight, their homes and feeding station hidden by the foliage.

Day 16


When I’m at work there isn’t much time for nature. I have to get up, go to work, come back home, do the usual chores, go to bed, start again. But there is always my commute and lunch time. I may only have half an hour, but even in the centre of Bristol it’s easy to find a spot of grass within a two minutes walk. I have found one and it has become my lunch time spot. I lay down on it, eat my sandwich/soup/salad, and close my eyes. Or I pick up a book and read, because books are the best lunch dates.

Day 17

A day off brought me and my partner to Oxford. We meandered in the city centre for hours, not quite able to get lost in such a confined environment, but always escaping the bigger streets for narrow ones. Spires rose, yellow stones encased the colleges away from commoners, and all around nature made its home in the cracks of the architecture. As the heat of the day was not relenting, we retreated to the Thames and walked along the water until we found a quiet spot to dip our feet in and watch the natural world and humans go by for a while.

Day 18

It was time to head back home but not via A roads and the motorway. Instead, we drove into the Cotswolds, stopping at Burford for a long walk in the countryside. There were quiet tarmac lanes but also plenty of meadows and fields where I was free to take off my shoes and let the grass cushion my steps. I wish I could walk barefoot more often. We found a river and I took a swim before we had lunch by the water, the ducks always hoping for some of our food. We drove away but stopped again at the sight of another river. The water was very shallow but that didn’t stopped me. I jumped right in and walked in it for a while, the coolness of its water a blessing on such a hot day.

Day 19


Back to work, my everyday routine was broken by small birds on the cycle path by the Avon New Cut. I stopped my longboard and watch them attempt running away from commuters. I wondered what they were but work soon took over my mind and I dismissed the question. But on my commute back home, the little birds were still there, hoping about. I stopped and watched them for a while longer than I had in the morning. And it hit me. Those little baby birds are baby seagulls. And in that instant I realised I’d never seen one in my life, or had never paid enough attention to notice. Eventually I got back on the board, happy beyond belief at having seen and recognised those creatures we too often think as mean and ugly.

Day 20

Darkness was beginning to fall upon the city when I made my way home. I had spent the day at work and the evening at the Bristol Bike Project. I had seen nature on my commute but hadn’t paid more attention to it than usual. So on my way back, I slowed down and stopped by the river for a while. All I could hear was the distant hum of traffic and the slow rumble of trains. And there, above a bridge, gulls had congregated, all still and silent, a sight I could have easily missed had I not stopped to take in the evening atmosphere.

Day 21

The summer solstice has always been cause for celebration. When I was a child in France, musicians would take to the street and play through the day and night. If it was a school day, I was left free to wander the streets, following the notes that attracted my ears. As I grew older, Music Day became a small pause in the midst of exams, a relief that it would soon all be over and summer would finally begin. And then I moved to the UK, a place where there is no Music Day, not like in France anyway. So I took to spending time outside, immersing myself in nature. At first, it was simply long walks in London, making the most of the long day. Gradually, I began to escape the city, exploring the countryside and sleeping outside. And ever since it has become a tradition. On the summer solstice, I pack my bag and go on a microadventure. This time, I pedalled away from my front door and into Somerset (but more on that later).

Bonus video

For daily update, follow me on Instagram or Twitter.

#30DaysWild – Week 01

Make room for nature!

This is a cry from The Wildlife Trusts, urging us to remember nature and pay attention to it during our everyday life. Nature isn’t something to be enjoyed during our time off and lose sight of when we fall back into our daily routine. It is a home that needs to be nurtured and taken care of constantly. But this, is too easy to forget.

So this month, I, and hundreds of people across the British isles have pledged to be a little more wild. Here is what I chose to do during the first week. For daily update, follow me on Instagram or Twitter.

Day 01


On the 30th of May I suffered from a violent flu attack, leaving me barely able to walk. On the 1st of June I could walk a bit more but decided that the nature reserve was just too far away. Instead, I lay in the garden, letting the sun warm my skin. Half conscious, I noticed a white trail on the flowers below the tree laurel. Upon closer inspection, I noticed it looked like spit. Intrigued, I turned to the Internet and began to learn about the spittle bug that will grow into a froghopper. Everyday, I take a moment to pause and look at the cocoon. Soon, the bug will emerge and I probably will never see it again. After all, with an acceleration of 4,000 m/s2 over 2mm when it jumps, I am unlikely to spot it.

Day 02


I was back at work but my commute was made shorter by being given a lift into town. But that didn’t mean I would be deprived of nature. Work is encased in glass and concrete, but outside, plants find ways to develop around our structures. Like this flower I shared on social media. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I liked the simplicity and smallness of it. A few minutes went past, and people soon told me I had photographed a geranium robertianum, also known as herb-robert. I was glad for the help as I often find it difficult to identify plants (less so with trees). What resources do you use to help you name the plants you see around you?

Day 03


I had managed a day at work and was back for another one. I was again driven into town, but I was early. So I paused a moment by a church and watched a jay hop about in the sun. It looked happy jumping from one spot to another, and I could imagine it delighting in the sun and its warmth. But soon it flew away and I left the grass and sun by the church for the concrete and artificial light of work.

Day 04


I had managed two days at work but I was still feeling incredibly tired. I wanted to get out and enjoy the sun after my shift but had no strength left for it. So I did the next best thing. I picked up a book and began reading about the natural world around me. Uncommon Ground by Dominick Tyler is a wonderful book. It is adding a rich layer of vocabulary to the outdoors. What I thought was nameless or long forgotten is now named, described, and intimate.

Day 05


Just as I began to feel myself again, the rain arrived accompanied by gusts of wind. It didn’t make for a pleasant walk after work as drops lacerated my exposed face. But all around me, they fell on nature and man-made structure alike, hanging, conglomerating, and letting the light bounce off their surface.

Day 06


The rain continued sporadically but the wind picked up, making a downhill walk much harder than it ever is. My garden turned into a patchwork of leaves. Green on green it was very monochrome but in puddles they took to life and twirled with the drops, a dance to a music only they could hear.

Day 07


The wind lingered but it was out of breath. I on the contrary was feeling stronger and for the first time since my attack of the flu, I decided to hop of the bike and cycle to work. The main roads soon faded from view as I pedalled by the Avon New Cut, the familiar sight and sound of the river a delight to my eyes and ears.

Bonus video

For daily update, follow me on Instagram or Twitter.