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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » 2021 » May » 10

Everything but the gull: how Ben Watt fought the Covid blues with birdsong

Delivered... Sam Wollaston | Scene | Mon 10 May 2021 11:15 am

Blackcap! Chiffchaff! Warbler! The Everything But the Girl star is fighting to save a nature reserve in the heart of the city. As his new album Storm Shelter is released, we join him for some birdwatching

Cetti’s warbler!” says Ben Watt suddenly, raising a finger to indicate the new addition to the ambient soundscape. Listen, he says, to the opening “chi” followed by what sounds “almost like a little typewriter going off”. Watt does that, interrupts himself, or the silence if he’s not talking, to announce a new bird he’s seen or heard. “Blackcap!” he’ll exclaim. “Chiffchaff!”

We’re sitting in a bird hide overlooking a reed bed and an expanse of water on a gorgeous spring day. A heron stands, still as a photo, two metres in front of us. It could be rural East Anglia – apart from the roar of traffic and the giant arched structure in the background. These are, respectively, the A406 north circular and Wembley Stadium. And the place we’re at is the Welsh Harp reservoir, named after a pub that no longer exists.

The damage we're doing will contribute to the end of us

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