To Ducks and Other Waterfowl (L’Oiseau Ordinaire)
The sound of ducks and other waterbirds is a constant feature of any walk through the Avalon Marshes. At times the birds are visible, ducks will take to the air or they and other birds such as coots and moorhens will be seen bobbing on the water. Most of the time the sources of the sound are unseen: quacks, honks, screeches, squawks and clicks emerge from the reeds. It feels arbitrary and is unpredictable, at times there will be an isolated hoot, at other times a frenzy of duck and geese cackling.
I’ve gathered recordings of these sounds while walking the Levels. Here they form the basis for a piece which celebrates the waterbirds of this distinctive environment. It is a sonic world as evocative, if not as pretty, as that of the songbirds celebrated by Beethoven, Ravel, Vaughn Williams and Messian.