I have said this before, but I’ll happily say it again: next time you go out in the wild, don’t take a field guide, take Eddie. Go anywhere with Eddie and you won’t just see things. You’ll see deeply familiar things for the first time.
Or hear them. Eddie was in full spate about sounds. We do a lot of listening; Eddie had a gift for contemplation and shared silences: often we will sit a wild place and listen to what’s going on.
There was a lot of good song thrush that evening: in the long windless dusk his music carried across the marsh. Accompanying him were many warblers; whitethroat, chiffchaff, sedge warbler and especially blackcap. And was that a garden warbler as well? Surely it was: less of bravura performer than a blackcap, more rambling in structure.
Eddie was then seized with a thousand thoughts about sounds and how they matter and how we understand them, as you will read from his own blog. It’s science and its music, both at the same time, he said, as we listened the blackcaps’ competing chorus, strong and marvellously sweet.
Time and again Eddie tests my knowledge. And time and again he finds me out. Eddie doesn’t do assumptions the way most of us do: he comes at things from all sorts of unexpected angles. Eddie is not an infallible guide to identification: but he forces you to think about what you see.
Two swans flew directly over our heads at a height of 20 feet, filling the air with the sound of their progress: the rhythmic thunder of their wings. The sound tells us of the effort needed to keep the world’s second heaviest flying bird* in the air.
We went home via a group of flag irises, studded with tiny jewels of pollen beetles. Are there many kinds of pollen beetles? I expect so, Eddie. There usually are, with beetles. But I’ll look it up when we get back.
*The heaviest is the kori bustard of Africa.
Eddie on science, sounds and music
After supper, Dad and I decided to take an evening walk on the marsh. It was warm. There wasn’t much wind.
We sat on the benches, and listened to the birds. We could hear blackcaps singing to each other across the marsh. They sang their tunes over and over again.
I thought about sounds. I told Dad that if we were making a film of our walk, we would need the sounds of our footsteps and our voices. We would also need to record the songs of the birds.
I said it was music and science at the same time. It was music because we love listening to the songs. But it’s also science because we know the birds are singing to guard their territories.
When you startle a pheasant you can hear the sound of its wings flapping. Two swans flew over us. We could hear the huge sound of their wings. Swans are big. They need big wings to fly. Their wings are bigger than the speakers on Dad’s desk.
Last night it was rainy. I woke in the night and listened to the sound of the rain on the window. When it’s gentle you just hear the small sound of the small rain. Last night was a bit more than that.
Sometimes we get a huge rain. That makes a huge sound when we are sleeping. It must be like being deaf, because you can’t hear anything except the rain. Sometimes the rain comes in a thunderstorm.
It’s like a big ear-ache. People can get scared by thunder and lightning. I was scared when I was little; but now I’m more grownup I’m fine with the sound.
Noises are important. When we left the marsh we swung the gate closed. We knew we hadn’t closed it properly because it didn’t make the right noise. So I went back and closed it: the gate went clink!
I hope you enjoyed my sound blog!