Work has started on my latest recording project, Ashland. Featuring a fresh sonic and narrative perspective on one of our best-known native UK trees, it should be available in early spring 2018.
I've had to postpone work on a related short-term project around Dartmoor due to anthropogenic disturbance in the recording area; if the situation improves, I plan to revisit in the future.
I'm also developing a number of specialised recording methods for bumblebees and making plans for nocturnal red fox recordings.
It's been a superb autumn for recording, but it hasn't all been plain sailing.
During a hike through woodland, I nearly lost thousands of pounds' worth of audio gear after slipping on a rotten branch and falling forwards (I was lucky I didn't break my arm).
When fog thickened without warning on another trip, I got lost, had to find my way through thick scrub and slippery rocks in the pitch-dark, then had to jump over an electric fence without knowing exactly where I would land!
Despite these challenges, I've been rewarded with some incredible experiences.
Highlights include: common and soprano pipistrelle bats feeding close to a small deciduous copse in a Cotswold meadow; a pair of tawny owls swooping through beech trees at dusk, framed by water droplets falling onto a carpet of decaying leaves; and strong, northerly winds filtering through a mature, crispy, late-autumn woodland canopy.
Careful editing for all of these recordings is ongoing, and many will form part of an exciting new project in late 2018.
Updates to come.
Paul Virostek at Creative Field Recording recently interviewed me about my year-long recording project around WWT Slimbridge.
Paul is a leading field recordist, and it was a privilege to be asked about my approaches to capturing sounds around one of our most important wetland nature reserves.
Read the full interview here.
I've taken some time away from the field to edit and curate the significant body of recordings made during the spring and summer period.
Selected sounds will be uploaded as part of a 2017 sound series in the coming months, so keep an eye on the blog for updates.
Around this, I'm preparing equipment and researching isolated locations along the Severn Estuary for autumn and winter recordings; target species this year include teal, black-tailed godwit, barnacle geese and a range of other wildfowl and wading birds.
Green Space has been played just under 700 times, and has been entered into a couple of short film competitions. Thanks to all for listening and watching.
Work has also started on a new, short-duration project, focusing on an ancient location in Dartmoor.
My subterranean recording of coastal waves and sand at Cushendun Bay, Northern Ireland was played on BBC Radio 4 this morning.
Skip to 17m 50s to listen (sign-in required):
As usual, thanks to all at Broadcasting House, London. Special thanks to Paddy O'Connell and Duncan Barber.
Work continues on Green Space, which explores themes of green infrastructure and noise pollution in our cities.
Using a combination of adapted microcomputers, high-level programming languages and recording equipment, I'm building on the overall aesthetic of Plastic, which was selected for screening during the opening ceremony of the NaturVision Film Festival 2016 in Ludwigsberg, Germany.
Updates coming soon.
My recording of a submerged branch was played on BBC Radio 4 this morning. Skip to 19m 50s to listen:
Thanks to all at Broadcasting House, London. Special thanks to Paddy O'Connell and Edward Drummond.
Following the success of Slimbridge, I've started working on a new environmental film exploring themes of green infrastructure and noise pollution, using a combination of adapted microcomputers, high-level programming languages and recording equipment.
I've also just completed a busy period of spring/early-summer recording, adding some fascinating sounds to my library. Highlights include blackcap mimicry (with the imitated song thrush clearly audible in the distance), and a whitethroat singing amongst coastal scrub.
It's been just under a month since Slimbridge launched.
People from all over the world have been listening, and I've received some incredibly positive feedback and words of encouragement.
It's been received particularly well in the media and professional audio communities:
‘Mark Ferguson has recorded some wonderful sounds of nature.’ — Damian Carrington, Guardian
‘The sounds are very evocative, and really recreate the feel of Slimbridge.’ — Paul Virostek, Creative Field Recording
Several key conservation organisations are now planning to run features on the project, and I've even had a request for inclusion on an undergraduate syllabus in one of the UK's leading academic institutions.
All of this exposure should help raise awareness of our unique wetlands, their sounds, and the remarkable species they support.
My thanks to everyone out there for taking the time to listen.
My latest extended recording project featuring sounds from the UK's flagship Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust reserve is online. Thanks to everyone who made it possible!
I'll continue to post updates and thoughts from listeners in the coming weeks.