When you dip down below the centre of St. David’s in Pembrokeshire, Britain’s smallest city and the final resting place of Wales’ patron saint, you enter a valley of peace and tranquility. Ivy-clad trees line the pre-medieval lane that leads steeply down to cross The River Alun at the valley bottom. The 12th Century Cathedral and ruins of the Bishop’s Palace sit either side of the fast moving water that slips down to the sea at Porthclais. Accompanying the tinkling high notes of the babbling water at any time of day, jackdaws coar above, swooping and swirling between bare twigs and branches. As dusk approaches the jackdaws grow in number, slowly amassing in the trees that sit on the banked cathedral graveyard.
This soundscape, recorded 2 March 2017 – a day after St. David’s Day, begins at just before 6pm with the birds already growing to significant numbers and brings together the human and natural worlds in an unorchestrated symphony that has played out, day after day, for approaching a thousand years.
Jackdaws call from the trees in the graveyard and around the cathedral grounds.
The bell tower strikes out the number of hours.
All the while the jackdaws increase in number, cack-cack contact calls growing and falling to an unknown purpose, new arrivals joining to settle in the trees.
Occasionally they lift together, circling the cathedral grounds in a huge flock of black shapes before settling back into the branches.
The cathedral organ begins to play.
A horse and rider passes by, heading home to their stables for the night.
Recorded using Schoeps CCM 4Lg and CCM8Lg microphones in a double mid-side array, to a Sound Devices 633.