Sounds from the Batwalk


A wonderful moonlit batwalk  in Handsworth Park last night, led by Lucy from the RSPB. Below is a recording of of some of the bats we heard, using  bat locators – the bats use echo location to hunt their pray, emiting high pitched sounds which bounce back off the moths and midges, enabling the bats to hear (rather than see) what they are hunting. The bat sounds, too high to be heard by the human ear, are made lower by the bat locator, which is what you can hear below:

Soundscapes & Trees

Creative interventions in Handsworth Park last Sunday were a success, with a multi speaker sound installation in the bandstand by Bobby Bird , plus an inspired talk about trees by park ranger Jim Harris.

The pastoral / urban soundscapes recorded in & around Handsworth Park included the dawn chorus,  a train, rowing on the lake, a cricket match, wind in the reeds, cycling, children in the playground, a pair of parakeets & an excerpt of ranger Jim’s previous talk.

Some of these, like the dawn chorus, emanated from all 8 speakers simultaneously, like being surrounded by birds in a wood, others, as with the recordings of bicycles,  moved around in a slow circle from speaker to speaker so that standing in the centre of the bandstand felt like being encircled by an invisible cyclist – while a train (recorded using two microphones placed widely apart) intermittently clattered by in super stereo, to startling effect.

Children were particularly captivated, running from speaker to speaker, ‘chasing’ after a sound, or listening to hear if different sounds came from different speakers, as well as enjoying guessing which parts of the park the recordings were made in.

Sounds on the day combined with those previously recorded –  children laughing in the playground weeks ago, mixing in with the sound of children laughing in & around the bandstand , which together with cyclists passing, birds singing, conversations being had, distant traffic etc,  all helped to make this a most evocative piece to experience,  conjuring a real sense of past & present, time & space.

Then came another facinating walk around the park lead by ranger Jim Harrison, whose knowledge about trees & ecology was delivered in an unbroken flow for over two hours.

From left to right : large cherry tree, a native oak and Jim’s personal favourite, the Indian Bean tree. Here is a short excerpt of one of Jim’s talks:



Sound Mapping of The Park 07/08/16

Come and listen to the sounds of the park, which have been recorded in Handsworth Park over the past few months by local sound artist Bobby Bird, together with some young recording assistants, played back over an Octophonic speaker system in the park bandstand. From 2.00-6.00pm Sunday 7th July 2016

Setting up to capture the sound of a train going past, using two microphones set up approx 60 metres apart – which also provided a neat demonstration of the speed of sound.

Papplewick Pumping Station

Recording the Bolton and Watts Beam Engine at the beautiful  Papplewick Pumping Station in Nottinghamshire at the weekend went well, helped by the accommodating and friendly team of volunteers, and director Ashley.
After Bobby & Nils set up a range of microphones throughout the building, the engine was started up, and all present maintained silence for nearly an hour while the recordings were made.

Then the doors were opened to the public for a vibrant Steampunk themed day!

Summer Activities

HR summer flyer A5 aw

Update! – The postponed Mosaic-ing of a sunflower will now take place on Sat 16th June between 12-4.00. Unfortunately Sophie cant be with us, but has lent us all her tools,  & we have gathered lots of materials between us, so come along to help create a community sunflower mosaic which will be displayed on the plinth throughout August , Some ideas connected to sunflowers include:

  • Seeking out positivity and strength, as the bloom turns to face the sun
  • Nourishing yourself and others, since the sunflower produces an abundance of edible seeds
  • Brightening your mood, through the vibrancy of the yellow or orange petals


Spring Flower Mandala


First experiment with making a sun catcher with some of the dried flowers which I ‘ve been picking in Handsworth Park and pressing throughout the spring. A kitchen table collaboration by Scylla Magda & Claudette Holmes, as part of ‘Handsworth Revolutions -Celebrating the Cycle of the Seasons’.


Crofton Beam Engines

Bolton&Watt1812 contact-mike

A great trip to Crofton Beam Engines in Wiltshire over the May Day weekend, to make sound  recordings of the 1812 Bolton and Watt beam engine : “The oldest working beam engine in the world, in its original location and able to perform its original task”.

Maintained by a dedicated team of volunteers & enthusiasts, this is a wonderful place to visit for anyone interested in James Watt and the history of steam power.

A few recordings were made during the day, using contact mikes, but the best bit came when the beam engine was kept running for an extra hour after closing time, so that it could be recorded without  picking up any additional sounds from the visiting public. Given the enormous size and power of this engine, which moves over  a ton of water with each stroke, the sounds were surprisingly subtle and mesmerisingly hypnotic. More pictures here

boiler -record03A 6 a.m start to record the lighting of the boilers