SUNDAY AFTER NEXT, the 4th of May, is International Dawn Chorus Day. This started out at a Birmingham nature reserve in 1984 and it’s grown in scope ever since.
Londoners can get involved too, thanks to an ambitious and exciting project that weekend called soundCamp, run by Grant Smith with the help of Maria Papadomanolaki and the Stave Hill Ecological Park in Rotherhithe. It bills itself as a listening event but this errs on the side of modesty.
Included will be live streaming radio broadcasts, listening walks, workshops and panel discussions. The LSS’s very own wide-awake wildlife recordist Richard Beard will be there and I’m meant to be doing something too.
Stave Hill is an artificial hill built in 1985 from excavated earth and rubble and it’s in the exact middle of the map below:
The hill provides good views from the top and it’s the kind of vantage point which people are naturally drawn to when marking important calendar events. I remember a big crowd swarming up it to see the solar eclipse of 1999 and watch the edge of the moon’s shadow rush across London. Here’s a picture of Stave Hill thanks to the Geograph project:
The ‘camp’ part of soundCamp means exactly that: people will be camping overnight on Stave Hill to catch the sunrise at 5.27 on Sunday morning. If you don’t fancy spending the night under canvas then you’ll need to plan your transport options carefully. The nearest Overground stations are Surrey Quays and Rotherhithe, but the trains don’t start running until around 6.45am on Sundays. The N1 night bus runs from central London to Surrey Quays.
SoundCamp looks to be one of the most imaginative sound-related projects in London this year, and it’s great to see such a strong emphasis on participation. Get involved and hope to meet you there.