Bird Soundscapes from Orkney



Better known as a skilled musician and composer, Fiona Driver's lifelong love of birds and her knowledge of music recording finally joined forces and have resulted in this magical album; eight full length tracks of birds, wind, waves and waterfalls from the Orkney Islands where she grew up and lived until 2018.

Taking care to create a very natural soundscape, Fiona has featured a varied range of habitats from the crashing seas off Marwick Head to a sheltered woodland complete with a bubbling burn, and she has captured some of Orkney's rarest birds in the process - from the Red Throated Diver flying overhead to the Redpolls in the woods, and even a cuckoo, a bird that was relatively unheard in Orkney a decade ago.

Tim Dean, Orkney resident, bird expert and author of the wonderful Orkney Book of Birds, reviewed Orkney at Dawn:

For the last couple of evenings, I’ve counted my blessings. Pulling down the blinds at 6pm, I took to a comfy chair, closed my eyes and listened to ‘Orkney at Dawn’. Immediately the present was banished and I was transported to a timeless summer dawn and the sound of Orkney’s birds.


‘Orkney at Dawn’ has been three years in the making and captures bird song and bird calls at a variety of locations and a number of habitats in the county. Most of the recordings have been made at a time when ‘ordinary’ folk were tucked up in bed. Fiona, however, was at large with her microphone (ME66 Shotgun mic) and MP3 recorder (Roland Edirol) hoping that Orkney’s birds would perform for her. 


The resulting 48 minutes of recordings include more than 30 different bird species recorded at the cliffs of Marwick, the shore at Aikerness, the woodland at Woodwick, the burn at Happy Valley, the hedgerows along the Lyde Road, the gardens of Velzian in Rendall and Newtonhill in Stromness. The sea at the Bay of Hinderayre and the Bay of Skaill also has a leading role.


There are seven tracks on ‘Orkney at Dawn’ and on each of the tracks there are background singers and soloists. There are some real stars among the soloists and my personal favourites are the Curlew on ‘Shore’, the Blackbird and Sedge Warbler 

on ‘Blackie’, the Robin, Redpoll and Willow Warbler on ‘Woodland’ and the Wren on ‘Wrannock’. 

Fiona has listed 33 species on the CD cover – it’s a real challenge to hear and identify all of them and some of them make very short-lived appearances….but with a pair of headphones it is possible 


You might think that her task was largely trouble-free but the very sensitivity of her equipment enabled her to record noises she had no wish to record - often at the most inconvenient moments. 

For ‘Blackie’, it was necessary to be ready to record at 03.30 in the garden at Velzian in Rendall. 

However, because of intrusive noises emanating from vehicles, creel boats and wind turbines in Kirkwall (many of these noises were at least ten kilometres away), Fiona had to be an ‘early bird’ on three consecutive mornings in order to get the perfect recording. She assures me she has yet to recover from this ordeal.


Thank you, Fiona, for creating this. Listening to ‘Orkney at Dawn’ is almost better than the real thing; its whetted my appetite and left me asking for more sounds of Orkney. Is Fiona the first to record Orkney’s birds? Her future plans include similar recordings for Shetland and the Cairngorms.

By a dry stone dyke I built myself
Young sparrow
Day out in Deerness
At the beach in Rendall
In the Cairngorms
Birdwatching in Birsay
Fiona on Hoy
Dad's old binoculars
Broch of Gurness at sunset

Fiona's Story

Fiona Driver grew up on the Orkney Island of Hoy. She was home educated, and showed a great talent for music when she discovered her great grandfather's fiddle, at the age of 14. 

Now a successful musician, composer and teacher, Fiona has written 

around 270 tunes, as well as releasing two solo albums and two fiddle books to date.

Recently she completed her BA Applied Music Degree through the University of the Highlands and Islands, receiving a Distinction. This included studying digital recording.

Along with her musical interests, Fiona has always had a passion for birds, and has used her recording skills to capture Orkney's birdsong along, with other natural sounds. 

These recordings feature Orkney's bird life at dawn, along with wind and waves, to bring the essence of Orkney to your ears, wherever you may be......

Fiona's other interests include

climbing mountains, and photography.




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