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Myles North in East Africa

The man who brought “magic” to bird sound recordings
© David Macauley CC View Large

Sometimes the magic in an archive recording is the person doing the recording. Myles Edward Wentworth North spent his adult life as a civil servant in the British colonies of east Africa. Using equipment loaned by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, he systematically recorded the bird voices (including that of this Black Cuckoo) of Kenya, Somalia, and Abyssinia — from the early 1950s to the mid-1960s. Cornell’s Macaulay Library now holds more than 1,000 of his recordings, which document not just the birds, but the circumstances of their creation — all in his very particular accent.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®
Myles E.W. North in East Africa
Written by Rick Wright and Dominic Black
This is BirdNote.
 [Black Cuckoo, ML 8258, 01:38 ff. That was the call of the Black Cuckoo at my house at Nairobi, on the 24th of January 1965, heard only…this was the wa-ha call.(fade)
Sometimes the magic in an archive recording is not just in the thing being recorded, but the person doing the recording. That’s the voice of Myles Edward Wentworth North, who spent his adult life as a civil servant in what were then the British colonies of east Africa. Using equipment loaned by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, from the early 1950s to the mid-1960s, North systematically recorded the bird voices of Kenya, Somalia, and Abyssinia, now known as Ethiopia.
 [Red-billed Oxpecker http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/14498]
    Cornell’s Macaulay Library now holds more than one thousand of his recordings that document not just the birds, but the circumstances of their creation – often at some length. And all in his very particular accent.
[Tropical Boubou, Ml 8732, 00:50 ff.]
You can hear more of his recordings and his descriptions of birds like the Tropical Boubou [BOO-boo], a handsome black and white bird, somewhat like a shrike.
[Tropical Boubou, ML 8732, 3:12 to 4:05]
Begin at BirdNote.org. I’m Michael Stein.
###
Environmental recording [14498] by Myles E.W. North; Black Cuckoo [8258] by Myles E.W. North; Tropical Boubou by Myles E.W. North [8732]; Oxpecker [14498] by Myles E. W. North.
Bird sounds provided by Jay Horner, The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York and ambient sounds from xeno-Canto at xeno-dns.org.
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie
© 2016 Tune In to Nature.org    September 2016   Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#  northmew-eastafrica-01-2016-09-08           northmew-eastafrica-01

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