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  • Matthew Shenton

Broadcasting the Dawn Chorus

I’m taking part in Soundtent's Reveil 10 Dawn Chorus broadcast on the 6th and 7th of May 2023.

Over the first weekend in May, Reveil will make a 24+1 hour loop of the earth, travelling on live feeds from streamers around the world at daybreak. Each stream adds to the detail and diversity of the mix.

My stream will start on the Sunday morning during civil twilight which starts at 4:36am and continue until sunrise at 5:14am.

After signing up and being accepted I spent a long time working out where to broadcast from. I decided that I didn't want to take the easy option and set up in my black garden and use wifi, but instead would find a site on the river opposite the Port of Felixstowe and Harwich Harbour to investigate the interplay between the dawn chorus and industrial sounds present there.

Throughout March 2023 I walked our dog along the banks of the Orwell and Stour and checked the 4G signal stength until I found a sweet spot that has great signal, mudflats in front and a wooded area behind. It also has a covered bench just in case of inclement weather!

Soundtent provide a really useful guide detailing how to set up a stream for the broadcast, and luckily I already had the equipment and knowledge on how to set up thanks to a brilliant Jo Kennedy blog post about setting up a binaural head I had read last year. Jo's post explains how to achieve the binaural effect on a budget - which appeals as I dislike spending lots of cash on equipment.

For my budget set up I will be using: a Zoom H1n I was lucky to receive for Christmas, two lavalier mics from Amazon that came with wind muffs, a trs splitter I have previously used with my Volca Modular for cv and gate inputs, two trrs to trs adapters, a clone iPhone camera adapter, a small Gorilla grip tripod, a camera mount from a knock-off Go Pro kit, a USB powerpack, two hair bobbles and a stick.

The set up worked fine in my garden, but I needed to do a proper test run so on Easter Sunday I was up at 5am to do just that.

Unfortunately, you cannot record when using the H1n as an audio i/o with the locus broadcast app, but I did stop broadcasting at 6am to record a short segment which can be heard below.

In general, I think it all went ok - I was lucky with the weather as there was no rain and the wind was said to be around 4mph. There is quite a bit of background rumble on the recording that came from the RORO Harwich ferry that had just docked. The H1n has three levels of lo cut that I will experiment with on another trial run to see if that helps, but the rumble isn't overpowering and the idea was to capture industrial sounds.

What was lovely was that due to then darkness I hadn't realised that there was a group of wader feeding on the mudflats a few metres in front of me! When I got home I downloaded the Merlin Bird ID app and fed it the recording. It identified ten species as being present from the clip. Not a bad start.


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