AWSRG Workshops

Dec

29

2023

AWSRG Victorian Gathering, 11/12th Nov 2023

by Roslyn Oades

Creeping along the hilly, dirt road to Strangways in regional Victoria, I was quite unsure what to expect.

I signed up as a member of Australian Wildlife Sound Recording Group several years ago during Melbourne lockdowns. I’d enjoyed listening to their recordings, reading their articles, following group email exchanges, and on one occasion attending a fascinating online listening party, with audio accompanied by spectrograms. But, to be blunt, I was mostly an online AWSRG lurker. When it came to their in-person field excursions, I felt too much of an imposter to attend. However, on this occasion, the gathering was only a couple of hours from home, so I decided to take the plunge…

Following the directions I’d been sent, I took a left at the old ‘Land for Wildlife’ sign and pulled up at a charming mud-brick house surrounded by bushland. I was greeted by Andrew Skeoch, the AWSRG’s president, whose insightful new book I’d just begun reading. Andrew had generously opened his home to an enthusiastic group of AWSRG field-recordists for the weekend – both novices and experts alike. I fell into the novice end – highly curious, and with a lot to learn.

My adventures in sound over the next two days blew my mind. Our friendly group of around a dozen included several musicians, audio engineers, academics, a sound designer, a bird watcher and a few other field-recording novices like myself. One thing we all had in common was a passion for nature recordings and the technology that allows us to document natural environments with fidelity. The weekend was full of generous exchanges of knowledge, artistic sharing, close listening, ample food and warm company – while also managing to be very relaxed.

Highlights included experiencing one of Vicki Hallett’s responsive environmental music improvisations on clarinet in the bush at dusk on Saturday:

Earlier in the day, we’d also been introduced to the work of the Bowerbird Collective – two classical musicians who (by a serendipitous coincidence) were performing a duo concert of environmentally-themed music nearby in Maldon that afternoon. After they’d dropped by to join us for lunch and speak about their work, we attended the concert which featured nature audio and video woven among the live music.

The following morning, several of us rose early to record the dawn chorus, each using our own recorders, allowing a comparison of equipment. A small group of Brown-headed Honeyeaters chipped in the canopy overhead, while a Scarlet Robin, Bronzewing Pigeon, Magpies, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and White-throated Treecreepers called not far off.

Back in Andrew’s studio, we compared our recording methods and learned about audio processing techniques using Isotope RX.

I came home from my adventure in Strangways feeling inspired, nurtured and energised – and with a new list of listening and reading materials to dive into. I was so appreciative of this opportunity, and in particular, the warm hospitality and generosity of spirit I encountered among the AWSRG community. I look forward to attending another gathering in future, and recommend any fellow AWSRG lurkers to do the same.

Jun

27

2021

AWSRG Winter Listening Party

Join us for an AWSRG Winter Listening Party.

Wednesday, July 14th at 7.00pm AEST

This will an opportunity to gather, chat and share recordings. Contribute a recording or two to the evening by sending audio no later than 24hrs beforehand (possibly via WeTransfer.com) to: listeningearth (you know the symbol) gmail (dot) com.

Registration is free but required to access the meeting link

Jan

30

2021

Pied Butcherbird Song with Hollis Taylor

Our February AWSRG seminar will be a talk by Hollis Taylor on her research into the songs of the Pied Butcherbird.

more »

Jul

19

2019

Smiths Lake nature sound conference report

The AWSRG’s 2019 conference has just been held on the shores of beautiful Smiths Lake on the NSW coast. Thirty of us gathered for the week, and whilst nature was the common bond, as a group we represented considerable diversity; experienced recordists to beginners, science researchers to artists, newcomers to some of those original members who began the group in the 1980s.

L-R: Janeene Willis, Arwen Ximenes, Marg Eller, Sue Boardman, James Harris, Michael Hannan, Bruce Robertson, Leah Barclay, Jurian Hoogewerff, Nicole Carol, Elena Gorgeva, Tim Duck, Virginia Hillyard, David Secombe, Sue Gould, Sophie Hoogewerff, Melinda Barrie, Rob Garbutt, Doug Quin, Rod Thorn, David Stewart, Michelle Scully, Graeme Chapman, Mike Fitzgerald, Andrew Skeoch & Jeff Eller (absent: Sharon Nott, Diana Hodge, Neil Boucher & Clem Fitzgerald)

more »

May

14

2019

Draft Program – AWSRG Workshop 2019

The AWSRG’s 2019 workshop (July 8-12) will be a week of immersive listening, nature sound recording, field craft and artistic engagement with nature.

Our venue, at the University of NSW’s field station at Smiths Lake on the north central NSW coast, will put us in the midst of habitats including subtropical rainforest, eucalypt woodlands, coastal heaths, wetlands and beaches. The perfect place to explore a range of sonic environments and how to record them.

Our keynote facilitator will be Prof Douglas Quin, from Syracuse University in New York. As a recordist, Doug has travelled widely and pretty much done it all, from terrestrial soundscapes and contact microphone work, to the extreme field practice he has undertaken in Antarctica. He’s used these recordings in film sound design, composition and installations. That is quite a breadth of experience, which Doug shares openly with warmth and clarity – he’s a born educator.

Doug will be joined by local experts in a program that will focus strongly on field craft and practical skills. Leah Barclay will lead a hydrophone lab, allowing us to explore nearby aquatic environments, from marine to freshwater. Dave Secomb, Andrew Skeoch, Sue Gould and others will conduct field sessions in terrestrial recording skills. And when it comes to documenting individual species vocalisations, we will be in the company of three of this countries most experienced naturalists; David Stewart, Graeme Chapman and Fred van Gessel.

These activities will allow us to get hands on with how to use a range of microphones and recorders. Once indoors, this will be complimented by sessions demonstrating software and the dark arts of digital magic for editing, processing, publishing & archiving.

Beginning with a presentation by local ornithologist Mick Roderick on the environmental significance of the local area, we’ll enjoy a week of fascinating talks. Among topics will be honeyeater dialects, anthropogenic noise and acoustic sanctuaries, gull subspecies, soundscape aesthetics, communication in flying fox colonies, zoömusicology, sonic recognition systems, birdsong mimicry and compositional practices. Graeme and David will lead a forum on the perceived decline of passerine populations, and sound artists will discuss how they communicate conservation values through creativity.  It’ll be a wide palate of ideas, fostering discussion across arts and sciences.

After a full day, we’ll relax of an evening with a program of live music performances and film screenings curated by Leah, utilising an immersive multi-channel playback system. This will be rounded out with an informal sharing of member’s activities, trips and adventures. We may even entice Doug to tell us exactly how he recorded one of the most extraordinary of all nature’s sounds; the vocalisations of Weddell Seals under the Antarctic sea ice.

As much as the program is shaping up to be memorable, it is the people and relaxed atmosphere at an AWSRG gathering that make it so much fun. And of course, the food. After working up an appetite, we’ll be settling down to a convivial sharing of gourmet cuisine from a talented local chef.

It will be an engaging week and a revitalising sharing of nature. We look forward to meeting old friends and new.

Bookings, costs, accommodation and catering arrangements

 

Poorly fed sound recordists resort to eating their microphone…

Mar

1

2019

AWSRG 2019 Workshop / Conference Dates

Dates for the Australian Wildlife Sound Recording Group’s 2019 conference / workshop are now confirmed. Specific details and logistics for the event are still coming together, but in the meantime, please make a note of dates in your calendars.

8th – 12th July, 2019

UNSW Field Station, Smiths Lake, NSW.

Australian wildlife sound recording workshop

 

Our gathering will be week of listening to the natural world – sharing the skills and experience of nature sound recording for a variety of purposes, ranging from scientific research, to artistic responses and personal enjoyment.

Our venue will be the UNSW Field Research Station, located on the southwest shore of Smiths Lake, part of the Myall Lakes region on the central NSW coast. It is around 100km north of Newcastle and 35km south of Forster.

This location offers us a huge range of opportunities for wildlife sound recording, encompassing ocean and coastal, saltwater to freshwater lake habitats, and extensive tracts of sandy coastal heath, swamps, sclerophyll woodlands and subtropical rainforests.

One of our keynote presenters will be Dr. Douglas Quin, from Syracuse University in the US. Doug has a vast experience of sound recording around the world, including some extraordinary research in the Antarctic, and his work is accomplished in both sciences and arts. He’s generous with his knowledge, a natural educator, and enthusiastic about being part of our event.

We’re scheduling our conference for July to tie in with Doug’s availability. However we’re hoping it will also make it possible for local researchers, who would often be in the field during spring, to attend and contribute. We’ve found that our usual September timeslot has often precluded these professionals in the past. Given the extremely dry conditions in recent years across the inland and Queensland in particular, the coastal location should give is ample recording subjects, even though it is early in the season.

Details about the speakers program and workshops for the week, accommodation options, costs and booking details (much of it preliminary at this stage), will be available and updated on the conference page here.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Jan

1

2019

HNY 2019!

Wishing all AWSRG members and friends a fulfilling 2019. May the natural world sing for your microphones, or even better, just for you.

This year we will be holding our biennial workshop/conference. The organising committee are still considering venues (although we have one which looks very suitable), and our anticipated dates are the second week of July (a little earlier than usual). This time will hopefully allow researchers who would normally be in the field during spring to attend, plus allow a pre-eminent visiting recordist from overseas to be our keynote guest.

More details of all this as they are confirmed. But for now, lightly pencil the 8th-12th July in your (digital?) diaries, and we’ll look forward to gathering again.

Grey Fantail

Jan

28

2018

Presentations from the 2017 AWSRG Conference, Baradine

Each of the presentations at our 2017 conference were audio recorded as a document of the event, and are presented here in program order.

The acoustic in the room makes it difficult to hear at times, but hopefully the audio will be clear enough. Thanks to Bob Tomkins for making these recordings.

more »

Jan

18

2018

Huon Peninsula Soundscape, Papua New Guinea Rainforest

The Perspectives on Listening Symposium in Brisbane this last December gave me the incentive to edit up a soundscape from our recent trip to the Huon Peninsula in Papua New Guinea.

Leah Barclay invited myself (Andrew), Tony Baylis, David Stewart, Rod Thorn and Sue Gould to form a panel to discuss the trip and how we approached our sound recording. David, Rod and Sue were unable to attend, but Tony Baylis and I showed images and contrasted our individual field techniques and results. My impression of our one hour session was that many in the audience were particularly fascinated to hear of Tony’s bioacoustic field work.

Meanwhile, I edited this soundscape as an installation on multiple headphones so participants could immerse themselves in the rainforest during breaks in the symposium program.

The edit is compiled from seven sources, each about five minutes in duration, and representing aspects of the various altitude ranges to which we trekked and recorded.

Location sources are:
A – Hill forest (~1100m)
B – Mountain forest (Camp Astrapia) (~2000m)
C – Mountain forest (Midway Camp) (~2150m)
D – Cloudforest (Camp 13) (~2800m)
Timings are for approximate transitions.

0:00     1. Predawn insect chorus with Sooty Owl, Feline Owlet Nightjar and Papuan Boobook (B)
4:20     2. Dawn chorus with Regent Whistler, Lesser Melampitta and Ornate Fruit Doves (C)
10:10    3. Regent Whistler song (B)
16:40    4. Greater Ground Robin song (D)
21:30    5. Huon Bowerbird by its bower (D)
27:10    6. Emperor Bird of Paradise, with Cicadabird and Growling Riflebird (A)
33:40    7. Dusk cicada chorus, with Papuan Woodcock dusk flight calls (D)

I’ll be publishing extended recordings for free listening on our Listening Earth website in the near future, and will post specific links here.

Oct

1

2017

A Magical Evening with Glossy Black Cockatoos

On one of the final evenings of our workshop, a group of us set out for Salt Caves Dam, to witness and record the Glossy Black Cockatoos coming in to drink on sunset.

We set up both terrestrial and hydrophone rigs, recording independently above and below the surface of the dam.

The hydrophones were filled with sound immediately, a rich symphony of aquatic insects fizzing away. However we had to wait quietly as the late afternoon ebbed before the glossy blacks came in. They timed their arrival just as the breeze stilled. A pair arrived first, and watched us unconcerned from a high vantage. After a while others drifted in, around 15 birds eventually, perching and calling back and forth before finally dropping down to the dam edge to drink just on nightfall.


more »