Our mornings begin early – 4am early!
We are ready to go by 4.20am and meet up with Twomey (pronounced Too-mee), our local guide and companion while on Tetepare island. We walk one and a half kilometres along the shoreline, passing small estuaries, swamps, mangroves and limestone outcrops, before heading into the rainforest.
We are staying on the island of Tetepare, south of New Georgia in the western province of Solomon Islands. The Solomon Islands are situated east of Papua New Guinea just below the equator. Tetepare Island has been uninhabited by humans for over 100 years, and is now protected from the extensive logging found elsewhere in the Solomons. http://www.tetepare.org
We walk in the dark with only our head torches for light. I have no idea what the landscape around me looks like, and can only go on what I see a metre or so ahead of me; tree roots, liana vines, limestone boulders and veils of spider webs.
It’s just after 5am and we reach the location where Andrew intends to sound record. We are deep in pristine lowland rainforest. The air is warm and humid, and as I sit on a fallen tree trunk waiting for daybreak to reveal the forest, I listen to the hypnotic sounds around me.
My eyes can relax now that I am no longer trying to find my way over the muddy path and slippery roots. With the torchlight off, I sit in complete darkness and my eyes become more sensitive. To my delight I find the forest floor is aglow with luminous fungi. It’s as if the Milky Way is at my feet.
I feel so at home in this place. The pre-dawn darkness is comforting; the air is at body temperature, my skin seems to merge with it, and I feel suspended in the fecundity around me. Andrew is 100 metres away with the recorder making sure he has the mics in the right place, while Twomey and I sit quietly taking it all in.
Eventually dawn seeps into the sky. it’s 6.30am and there is enough light for me to start exploring and photograph my way through the forest.
It is like being inside a natural cathedral; enormous strangler figs, palms and other rainforest trees reach skywards, their leaves and fronds infinite shades of green.
The sounds of the forest have shifted and the daytime cicadas are thrumming. The ‘magic hour’ of light has passed, and by 9.30am we are getting pretty hungry. So it’s back to our leafhouse to dump our gear, shower and enjoy a breakfast of scones and a highly exotic megapode-egg omelet!
Established in 1993 by nature sound recordist Andrew Skeoch and photographer Sarah Koschak, Listening Earth offers a range of beautiful nature sound recordings from around the world.
"Our albums feature only the sounds of nature as you would hear in the wild - no music or other distractions. Recorded in often remote and pristine locations, they bring you the relaxing and beautiful sounds of our living planet. Listen, and let our recordings take you there."