Radio

Martha – an Endling’s Tale | BBC Radio 4 10th March 2015

Martha – an Endling’s Tale

BBC Radio 4, Tue 10 March 2015, 11.02am (rpt Mon 16 March at 21.02)

When Europeans arrived in America there were some 3-5 billion Passenger Pigeons. The last one, a bird named Martha died in captivity in 1914. A century on, wildlife filmmaker, writer and broadcaster, John Aitchison reflects on what lessons we have learned from the birds’ demise and explores the possibility of bringing the passenger pigeon back from extinction using genomic technology and a living relative, the band-tailed pigeon. It’s a fascinating and sobering journey. As John says when he comes face to face with Martha, “Extinction is a terrible thing”.

Wildlife sound recordings by Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt

The Diaries of Brett Westwood | BBC Radio 4 January 2015

The Diaries of Brett Westwood

BBC Radio 4

Mon – Fri, 12-16 January 2015, 13.45-14.00
Naturalist, writer and broadcaster Brett Westwood began a wildlife diary at the age of 15 about his ‘local patch’, an area of some 5 square miles near his home in Stourbridge. Some 40 years later, he’s still making notes and updating his records about the area. In this series, we join Brett as he returns to his local haunt and reflects on a lifetime of changes.

Wildlife sound recordings by Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt

The Castle: A Portrait in Sound | BBC Radio 4 December 2014

Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson’s evocative and powerful sound portrait of Dunstanburgh Castle in Northumberland.

Built in the 14th century as a piece of political theatre, the magnificent ruins have been reclaimed by nature. Swallows and rock doves nest in the gatehouse, kittiwakes and fulmars guard the sea walls, seals patrol the beaches and skylarks man the approach. The sounds of the sea, the wind and the waves are ever present.

www.bbc.co.uk

The Spirit Child | BBC Radio 4 27th October 2014

BBC Radio 4, Monday 27 October, 16.02

Paul Evans narrates a ghostly tale inspired by the true story of Alice Glaston who at eleven years old was the youngest person to be hung. She was hung from the gallows tree in Much Wenlock in Shropshire in 1545. When writer Paul Evans who was born here, later returned to live here and discovered the story of Alice Glaston from a passing reference in a local history book, he was both shocked and intrigued. The more he thought about the story, the more he felt a responsibility to tell the story as a way to free Alice’s ghost. It is the landscape and its stories which have inspired this poem, and this landscape is powerfully evoked through sound recordings by Chris Watson.

Alice is played by Bettrys Jones. Producer: Sarah Blunt

Gossip from the Garden Pond | BBC Radio 4 September 2014

GOSSIP FROM THE GARDEN POND

BBC Radio 4, Sundays 7, 14 & 21 September 2014, 19.15-19.45

Nestled between the clipped hedges and the neatly mown lawn, the garden pond might seem a tranquil even rather dull place, but nothing could be further from the truth as revealed in this very funny series of tales from a highly sexed Dragonfly, a hotly pursued Water Boatman, a ferocious Diving Beetle, a Tadpole who doesn’t want to grow up, a timid Spider and a self-righteous Snail as the residents of the pond reveal the truth about life between the ripples.

Written and introduced by Lynne Truss.
Wildlife sound recordings by Chris Watson
Produced by Sarah Blunt

Pick of the Week | BBC Radio 4 10th August 2014

Chris Watson presents Pick of the Week on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday 10th August at 6:15pm

For further information – www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04d11lb

Nature Series | BBC Radio 4 February 2014

A new series of Nature starts on BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 4 February, 11.02am, presented by and featuring wildlife sound recordings by Chris Watson.

Nature, BBC Radio 4 Tue 4 Feb, 11.02am Islands of Ice and Fire

In the first of new series of Nature, we join wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson in Iceland. When it comes to dynamic landscapes, there’s perhaps nowhere in the world more exciting than Iceland; with it vast groaning glaciers, spouting geysirs, thundering glacial waterfalls, hissing thermal vents and erupting volcanoes – and it’s the sounds of this landscape which Chris is keen to capture. But there are other sounds too; and on a hillside behind Husavik on the North coast Chris is astonished by the density of birds ; snipe, whimbrel, redwing, golden plover and redshank “ At first, it’s not apparent when you just look round, but what you really need to do is just listen” he says.

Presenter Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt

Nature – BBC Radio 4 Tue 11 Feb, 11.02am Arctic Terns at 66 degrees North
In the second of three programmes about the natural history of Iceland, Chris goes in search of Arctic Terns – which travel to Iceland from Antarctica to breed; the longest regular migration of any animal. Some birds travel even further – to the Arctic circle, and so on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, Chris takes a 3 hour ferry journey to the island of Grimsey which lies on the Arctic Circle to see and record some of these remarkable long distance migrants; birds which see more daylight than any other creature, as they enjoy a southern summer and then a northern summer each year.

Presenter Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt

NATURE BBC Radio 4 Tue 18 Feb 11.02am In search of Humpback whales
Every year between January and April, Humpback whales from all around the North Atlantic Ocean gather in an area called Silver Bank 100km north of the Dominican Republic to breed. After calving, the whales migrate north from these lower latitudes to their high latitude, summer feeding grounds.

In June, Chris travelled to Husavik on the north coast of Iceland where he joined a whale watching trip to look for Humpback whales on their summer feeding grounds – and perhaps even see some of the same animals which he had recorded on their breeding grounds earlier in the year.

Presenter Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt

David Attenborough: My Life In Sound

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In an exclusive interview for BBC Radio 4, David Attenborough talks to Chris Watson about his life in sound.
Monday 16 December
11.00-11.30am

You can now here this episode on iPlayer
BBC RADIO 4

One of Sir David’s first jobs in natural history filmmaking was as a wildlife sound recordist. Recorded in Qatar, Sir David is with Chris Watson (a current wildlife sound recordist), and is there to make a film about a group of birds he is passionate about, The Bird of Paradise. It is in Qatar where the world’s largest captive breeding population is and it is in this setting Chris takes Sir David back to the 1950s and his early recording escapades, right through to today where Sir David narrates a series of Tweet Of The Days on Radio 4 across the Christmas and New Year period.

Presenter/ Chris Watson, Producer/ Julian Hector for the BBC

In Britten’s Footsteps | BBC Radio 4 November 2013

BBC Radio 4, Fri 15 Nov at 11.02am

To mark the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth, wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson follows in the footsteps of the composer, presenting a soundscape based on the daily walks which Britten took around Aldeburgh to reflect on his morning’s work.
Presenter and wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt

Tweet of the Month | BBC Radio 4 October 2013

Throughout October, Chris Watson presents Tweet of the Day for BBC Radio 4

Tweet of the Day is a series of fascinating stories about our British birds inspired by their calls and songs.

Radio 4 Tweet of the Day is a series of 90 second episodes broadcast on BBC Radio 4, every weekday Monday – Friday.

Each Radio 4 Tweet of the Day begins with a different call or song of a British species, followed by a story of fascinating ornithology inspired by the sound. The series will run for a year, amounting to 265 episodes in total, narrated by wildlife presenters.
Not only will the series feature songs or calls which you are likely to hear each month, but also offers a fascinating insight into the behaviour or habits of the bird, their literary or folklore associations, stories of science or conservation success.

Working with a team of wildlife sound recordists, Gary Moore, Geoff Sample, and Chris Watson as well as recordings from the Natural History Unit Sound Archive, this series written and produced by the BBC Natural History Unit is a wildlife treat.

You can read Chris’s blog here

The Station | BBC Radio 4 9th October 2013

BBC Radio 4

9th October 11am

Sound recordist Chris Watson captures 24 hours in the life of Newcastle Central Station.
A dynamic and powerful soundscape of Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central Station using location recordings to tell a story of 24 hours in the life of this station – from the spring solo of a robin at dawn on the street outside to the pounding roar of the heavy goods trains which thunder along the rails past deserted platforms in the darkness of the night.
Watson regularly travels to and from this station and became fascinated by the sounds and acoustics of the building. So when he was granted permission to record inside, he leapt at the chance, visiting at various times during both day and night over several months, to capture the sounds within; from the quiet crackle of the overhead wires on a misty dawn morning to the terrifying roar and clamour of footballs fans and police dogs when Newcastle were playing at home to Sunderland, and the chanting voices and shouts of the fans overwhelmed even the sounds of the trains.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central Station was designed by John Dobson and opened by Queen Victoria in 1850.

Presenter: Chris Watson
Producer: Sarah Blunt for the BBC

HOLODISC – Radio Interview | Denmark

You can hear an interview with Chris on Danish radio SNYK (in English)

SNYKradio is a podcasting service based in Copenhagen. They cover contemporary music and soundart.

Last weekend Chris Watson performed at The Copenhagen Field Recording Festival, they met up with him and talk to him about the art of listening.

You can listen to the interview here.

Saturday Live: In St Cuthbert’s Time | BBC Radio 4 September 2013

You can listen to the programme here – Lindesfarne package starts at 32m56s
(and also mentioned on Chris Evans’s BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show was “Inside the Circle of Fire” – see below)
6th July 2013 – 30 September
10am – 4pm daily, Holy Cross Chapel, Durham Cathedral

Throughout human history artists have been influenced by their surroundings and the sounds of the landscape they inhabit.

When Eadfrith, the Bishop of Lindisfarne, was writing and illustrating the Lindisfarne Gospels on that island during the late 7thCentury and early 8thCentury he would have been immersed in the seasonal sounds around the island.

For ‘In St Cuthbert’s Time’, a collaboration with Durham University’s Institute of Advanced Study, and other Durham-based researchers, artist Chris Watson has created a sound installation that reflects the acoustic landscape of that island during the time that the Lindisfarne Gospels were being considered, written and illustrated.

Durham Cathedral’s Holy Cross Chapel provides an inspiring location for quiet reflection and meditation on the sounds St Cuthbert and the other monks would have experienced for themselves.

The installation will run continuously on a loop lasting around forty to fifty minutes and reflect the seasonal changes of a year out on the island. It will be played at a very discrete level as the intention is to create an atmosphere within the Chapel as if the Chapel was on the island and the natural sounds of that place were percolating inside through the two large unglazed windows. The replay level and spatial representation of the work is key to its success.

Visitors will be able to engage in conversation without having to raise their voices, as the sounds will be audible simply at the level they would be experienced in reality. Those who choose to listen will be able to engage with the work in a way which encourages a creative thought process regarding the spirit and sense of place.

The Installation will run from 06 July 2013 – to 30 September 2013, daily between 10am and 4pm.

You can read about it in the Newcastle Journal here, and Living North here.
There is also out now a new album released on Touch to coincide with this event.

The CD is now sold out

A View Through a Lens (repeat) | BBC Radio 4 August 2013

Programme link, 19-23 Aug, Mon- Fri, 14.45- 15.00

Wildlife cameraman John Aitchison often finds himself in isolated and even dangerous locations across the globe filming wildlife. In this series he reflects on the uniqueness of human experience, the beauty of nature, the fragility of life and the connections which unite society and nature across the globe as he films Adelie penguins taking their first plunge, encounters some funky chickens in Kansas, discovers the art of patience in the company of polar bears, learns to feel empathy amongst a colony of aggressive fur seals and films one of Nature’s greatest feeding spectacles in the Aleutian islands..

Written and Presented by wildlife cameraman John Aitchison.
Additional sound recordings by Chris Watson and Miles Barton. Produced by Sarah Blunt.

A Guide to Garden Wildlife | BBC Radio 4 8th July 2013

Brett Westwood presents a practical, informative and entertaining guide to help you identify the birds in your garden at this time of year.

Programme link

Monday 09.30am starting Monday 8 July
5 x 14mins

Brett Westwood is joined by naturalist Phil Gates in this informative and entertaining guide to some of our common garden wildlife. Recorded near Bristol, each programme focuses on a different garden habitat; log piles, ponds, hedgerows, trees and shrubs and finally stones. The series offers helpful advice on the appearance, behaviour and sounds of some of the typical species you’re likely to find, their value in the garden, and how to encourage them into your own garden.

The series features wildlife sound recordings by Chris Watson. Producer: Sarah Blunt

The Daily Telegraph (UK):

It’s a jungle out there! Among the bedding plants and hardy perennials of the domestic garden there seethes a busy host of little creatures. Presenter Brett Westwood and naturalist Phil Gates, accompanied by the peerless wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson, venture into a garden near Bristol to meet some of them. Who knew that the humble woodlouse or the froghopper larva (that little green thing that lives within the bubbles of cuckoo spit) could be so engaging? The soundtrack of garden birds is exquisite, and there’s a tremendous predatory flourish at the end. [Jane Shilling]

David Attenborough to Launch Tweet of The Day on BBC Radio 4

tweet

On 6 May David Attenborough will launch Tweet Of The Day, Radio 4’s new year-long celebration of the wonder and poetry of birdsong. Just before the Today programme, early risers will be treated to a different call or song of a British species, followed by a fascinating story of ornithology specific to the tweet in question.

In Britain there are now 596 species on the official bird list, of which 286 are recorded as rare. The BBC will be collaborating with brilliant wildlife sound recordists such as Chris Watson, Geoff Sample and Gary Moore to track down the songs of some of these much-loved birds, from the nightingale to the swift, the greenfinch to the garden warbler. The series will begin with the cuckoo – the song of the male is familiar to many, but how many of us can say that we have seen the bird itself?

www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre
and
www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/

The Listeners | BBC Radio 4 February 2013

BBC Radio 4, Tue 19 & 26 Feb at 11.02am
(repeated Thur 21 and 28 at 21.02)

Presenter Patrick Ayree
Producer Sarah Blunt

“I suppose for me listening is the most important thing I can do,” says acoustic biologist Katy Payne in this series. “ I just wish we were as good listeners as elephants are”.
In this two-part series, we discover that listening is about much more than just hearing.as we meet individuals whose professional lives are spent listening and interpreting the sounds they hear. The first programme focuses on sounds within the human hearing range and the second programme, explores ultrasound and infrasound; sounds above and below the human hearing range.

In the first programme we hear from Julie Ryan a volunteer with the International Rescue Corps, an organisation which specialises in urban search and rescue, Cardiac surgeon Jonathan Pitts Crick, piano tuner Davis Powell, wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson and acoustic biologist Katy Payne

In the second programme we hear from acoustic biologist Katy Payne, Brian Baptie, a seismologist with the British Geological Survey, astrophysicist Tim O’Brien, wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson and bat ecologist John Altringham.

listeners

A Guide to Mountain and Moorland Birds | BBC Radio 4 January 2013

RTGuide

BBC Radio 4, Mon – Fri, 7-11 January, 13.45-14.00

Brett Westwood in conversation with Stephen Moss
Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt

Which bird sounds like a coffee percolator and moves like a clockwork mouse? Well, the answer can be found in the first of a new series of Radio Guides to our commonest upland birds. Surrounded by the go-back-back-back calls of Red Grouse, Brett Westwood joins keen bird watcher Stephen Moss on the magnificent rolling hills of the Long Mynd in Shropshire. With the help of recordings by wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson, they offer a practical and entertaining guide to the birds which you’re most likely to see and hear on heather moors in Upland Britain.

This series complements five previous series; A Guide to Garden Birds, A Guide Woodland Birds, A Guide to Water Birds, A Guide to Coastal Birds and A Guide to Farmland Birds and is aimed at both the complete novice as well as those who are eager to learn more about our upland visitors and residents.

Chapel of Skins | BBC Radio 4 22nd January 2013

Afternoon Drama : Chapel of Skins
BBC Radio 4, Tue 22 January 2013, 14.15

Recorded high up in the Shropshire hills of the Welsh Marches, and inspired by a living landscape and its history, Chapel of Skins is a fictional story about a ghostly meeting of ways, written and narrated by Paul Evans with wildlife sound recordings by Chris Watson.

CAST:
Phone Box: Paul Evans
Trebrodier: Liza Sadovy
Anchor: Ben Crowe
Quabbs: Alex Tregear

Wildlife sound recordist: Chris Watson
Director / Producer: Sarah Blunt

Celebrating 90 Years of Radio Broadcasting…

Celebrating 90 years of BBC radio – short features marking some memorable radio moments. Here is Chris’s selection:

1924: The Cello and The Nightingale
Duration: 01:34

Cellist Beatrice Harrison duets with nightingales in a Surrey garden – or does she? Sound recordist Chris Watson investigates.