Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Kenya sketchbook 4

This is the 4th of my Kenya sketchbooks. You can find the others here:

I've recorded stuff since I was a kid. Long gone are the days when this meant lugging several kgs of German engineering around with you. Modern, solid state audio recorders are lightweight, largely foolproof and fit in a pocket. Ideal for travelling and capturing evocative, audio landscapes.

One of the reasons for making recordings on holiday is that, like sketching, once you start, you're committed to sitting quietly, observing what goes on around you and absorbing the atmosphere. It's too easy to forget to this or spend too much time seeing the holiday through a camera viewfinder. 

During one recording, I spent over an hour sitting by the lake side at Naivasha. I saw the sun come up, heard the dawn chorus  (it lasts about 10 minutes on the equator) and watched a troop of Vervet monkeys rouse themselves and chase off across the trees. I was also rather astonished to see a local chap take off his clothes and stride into the lake to begin fishing with a net. 

When you're audio recording, you sit quietly and let the wildlife come to you.

Here are a few minutes of the dawn chorus:

During the evenings, when we weren't looking for hippos by the lake side, I recorded the tree frogs:

I thought the range of sounds from these little amphibians was astonishing. But the best was yet to come.

We spent the final two days on Island Camp, in the middle of Lake Baringo. The tents looked out over the lake and ours was surrounded by trees.

In the early part of the evening, we heard some familiar friends - no doubt relatives of the tree frogs at Naivasha. After an hour or so, the chorus changed. An odd tinkling sound, followed by a full chorus. These were also tree frogs, a magical sound.

I have yet to track down the species name for these, so if any of you know - post it in the comments below.

Over the next few weeks, as I edit the remaining six hours of audio, I will post some of it to my SoundCloud stream. Call in and see what else I've been recording in Africa (and elsewhere).

PS If you would like to hear African sounds LIVE, then I recommend booking to see the Osiligi Warriors. This Kenyan Maasai group of dancers and singers is appearing at Rheged Centre, Penrith on 25 September. They are touring the UK so visit their site and see if they are appearing near you. 

Here is their list of tour dates.


  1. I'd never have believed these were frogs! The first ones sound like crickets, and the second like wind chimes. Great to hear (and see?) these things in the wild!

    And about the man taking off all his clothes in front of you to take a dip - similar thing happened to me in Copenhagen. First I knew about it was a grandmother next to me covered her granddaughter's eyes. I hadn't realised. Course, it's a bit colder in Copenhagen...

  2. It wasn't the man which bothered me, it was the fact that he was wading neck-deep into a lake containing hippos and crocodiles.

    We didn't see any crocs, but did spot one young hippo late at night. We also heard a couple early in the morning.