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Edwards's language was close to that of Ellis in calling the listener or reader to adopt
a childlike wonder in the face of nature, to see and hear again with supposedly
unprejudiced childlike senses. This is a wonderland of vivid accuracy and
immediacy rather than fantastic dreams, and radio is its appropriate medium.
Edwards's light voice, with a hint of a Suffolk accent, and his courteous and genial
persona, offered a naturalism far removed from Day's gunning masculinity. In
November 1959, on an edition of Woman's Hour from Norwich, Edwards took
listeners into 'A Fairyland', describing and mimicking the scene at Ranworth, going
through each bird and doing their calls:
Those rocket-winged little ducks, the teal, they flash past, but no protests, just
dainty call notes. [Example]./ Then the inevitable mallard, always breaking
out of cover, and always sounding vulgar. How else can be describe [sic] such
a voice? [Example]
( Woman's Hour 1959) 3
Alongside such imitation came recorded animal sound, pioneered by Ludwig Koch,
a refugee from Nazi Germany. Koch's 1954 Memoirs of a Birdman recalled making
the first ever bird song recording aged 8 in 1906 in Germany, producing 'sound-
books' of animals, birds and cities, subsequently destroyed by the Nazis, and
planning a Sound Institute to explore the rendering of life on disc. Moving to
Britain in 1936 Koch produced more bird sound-books, sponsored by Parlophone,
combining gramophone discs with text by leading new naturalists. Max Nicholson
provided words for Songs of Wild Birds (Nicholson and Koch 1936) and More Songs
of Wild Birds (Nicholson and Koch 1937); Julian Huxley wrote the text for Animal
Language (Huxley and Koch 1938). Koch formed the aural wing of new naturalism;
images in his Memoirs show him setting microphones up trees to record birds, and
'interviewing a young grey seal on the beach at Skomer' (Koch 1954:96). A sea-lion
in Regent's Park Zoo pops its head up by a gramophone on the edge of the pool to
hear a recording of its own voice. There is evident humour here, a humour derived
from a sense that catching and replaying sounds in this way is a strange disruption
of the boundaries of nature and culture, with a part of the animal becoming part of
technology. The animal may not understand the process, but it knows something is
going on, which, as it involves neither death nor food, remains a puzzle. Broadland's
birds similarly encountered men with microphones. Another Memoirs image shows
Koch in a punt, guided along a dyke by Crees, carrying his equipment into the
marshes: 'In search of the rare bittern on Horsey Mere, Norfolk. Its booming was
successfully recorded in this floating “studio”' (Koch 1954) (see Figure 6.2 ). We
return to the sound of the bittern below.
We have, then, identified two contrasting modes of being human in relation to
the animal, one working through visceral eyes and embracing death, the other through
a reserved watching and listening with weather eyes and ears. These versions of animal
—human mark out and shape two nature—cultures contesting the definition of the
region in the post-war period, and both work in relation to another nature—
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