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50 Years of the Wildlife Sound Recording Society.


In 2018, the Wildlife Sound Recording Society celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the society.

Below are a few images and key events in the WSRS's history over the past 50 years.


A brief History of the Wildlife Sound Recording Society

Richard Margoschis 1974

This is an extract written by Richard Margoschis published in "Wildlife Sound" Vol 2 No 2 Autumn 1974. Richard was a driving force and founder member of the society and was Hon Tape Editor from 1968 until his death in 2000.

"In 1964 the BBC Natural History Unit, in an attempt to discover how many workers were making natural history sound recordings, ran a competition for amateurs and, subsequently, invited those who entered to attend a weekend school at Bristol University during the early weeks of 1965; some twenty people attended. The competition had been organised by John Burton who had recently been appointed Organiser, Natural History Sound Recordings, at BBC Bristol; at this time Roger Burrows was Staff tutor with the Extra-mural Department of Bristol University; Burton and Burrows joined forces to organise the weekend school, the success of which brought forth requests for a weekend “in the field”. Roger Burrows already had contacts with Reg Kelly who was running Woodchester Park Field Centre as a private venture, and was able to arrange a weekend there in June 1965; virtually the same people attended and there was no doubt of the success.

WSRS113Richard and Viv Margoschis, founder members of the society.From this second gathering came two requests; that further weekends should be arranged; and that an organisation should be formed to bind together all those, both amateur and professional, interested in this work. The nucleus of an organisation was there, all that was required was for somebody to take the initiative but, as is so frequently the case with such things, time went by with nothing done. To my knowledge, a considerable amount of correspondence was unable to arrange a meeting in 1966 and so two years slipped by before we (Roger and I) met again in 1967. Perhaps Roger was a little too optimistic because, instead of a weekend course, he arranged a week long course, again at Woodchester Park Field Centre. Unhappily, it failed to obtain the necessary support and Roger had to cancel the lectures he had arranged. Nevertheless, he suggested that those who wished should attend at the field centre and he would spend what time he could with them – and Reg Kelly was good enough to go along with this. The three of us who went Bill Smith, Eric Lovett and Myself, had a wonderful week.

So it was that the history of the WSRS commenced that Thursday afternoon in May 1967, as Roger and I talked because we decided that we would do something about the desired organisation; he agreed to produce a newsletter – a single sheet – appeared early in January, 1968, it listed twenty two people known to be interested and invited all to attend a meeting at Woodchester Park on March 29th - 31st , when proper consideration would be given to the formation of a suitable organisation.

Meanwhile , I had been in touch with the same people asking for recordings with which to make up a programme for circulation; the first tape started circulation in January 1968 and contained material sent to me by eleven people.

Both the newsletter and the circulation tape were sent to the BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol where, in 1968 John Sparks was producing “Wildlife Review” as a regular nature programme and he invited me to talk about the propose new organisation. The timing of the broadcast was first class; it went out on the first on Sunday, March 24th, a week before the inaugural meeting, and was repeated on the following Wednesday morning; the results were almost staggering and indicated that there might well be more interest than we had imagined. BY Mid-day on the Wednesday I had received and accepted, and invitation to take part in a Midland TV News programme broadcast by ITV, and by that evening my wife Vivien, was receiving telephone enquiries from all over the country. This was wonderful publicity was supplemented the following weekend when Roger Burrows took part in a radio programme covering the southern part of the country.

The Inauguration

It was natural that the venue selected for the inaugural meeting should be Woodchester Park Field Centre where, on the evening of Friday March 29th 1968, some twenty persons gathered, the majority of them having attended the meeting in 1965. The Special Meeting took place during the afternoon of Saturday, March 30th and it was unanimously agreed that an organisation to be known as the Wildlife Sound recording Society be formed, its aims being:

to provide and encourage, in whatever ways possible, the recording of natural history sounds;

and to act as an “information centre” with regard to field recordings techniques and equipment.

To fulfil these aims it was decided that a Newsletter, or other publication, should be published about three times a year; that a tape recorded programme should be circulated about three times a year; and that at least two meetings should be arranged each year – one in the spring to be a field meeting and the one in the autumn to incorporate the AGM. The annual subscription was set at 10/- (50p), plus 10/- (50p) enrollment fee, with special provision for family members.

It was decided to invite Dr Ludwig Koch MBE to be Honorary Life President of the society and Desmond Hawkins (BBC Bristol) to be Hon.Vice President; both invitations were accepted."


John F Burton was appointed as Organiser of the BBC's Library of Natural History Sound Recordings in 1962. As well as the reason he gave for running the sound recording competition, the BBC Natural History Unit were keen to find new sources of wildlife recordings to add to our library to meet the growing demands of wildlife radio and television programmes. comm. pers JFB.

 WSRS Newsletter vol1 no3 1968coverOne of the first Newsletters issued, Wildlife Sound, No 3 November 1968

Vol 14 No 3 2018 Spring Cover Thumbnail WebWIldlife Sound Journal Spring 2018
 WSRS103Members attending inaugural meetings at Woodchester Park March 1968
WSRS106Field recording equipment in the 1960s
 WSRS153Nagra III
 WSRS145An early WSRS field meeting at Woodchester Park
 WSRS152An early WSRS field meeting at Woodchester Park  WSRS149An early WSRS field meeting at Woodchester Park

WSRS150An early WSRS field meeting at Woodchester Park sorting out a location to record

 koch2 smDr Ludwig Koch, the first president of the Wildlife Sound Recording Society

Wildlife Sound Recording Competition.

From the mid 60s the 3M company ran the "3M Wildlife Sound Recordist of the Year Competition", from 1968 until its demise in 1974,  the competition was coordinated and organised by WSRS on behalf of the 3M company. The competition was open to all, not just WSRS members. From 1975 until the present day the society has run its own competition for its members.

 WSRS114The judges for 3M Wildlife Sound Recordist of the Year, the forrunner to the WSRS annual sound competition. 
 WSRS127The judges of 3M Wildlife Sound Recordist of the Year, on prize giving day. Sir Peter Scott was awarding the prizes this year

Field Meetings became and still are an important part of the scoiety's activities.

WSRS112Field Meeting at Woodchester Park group at Ennerdale 1989WSRS field meeting at Ennerdale 1989
groupInniskea Ireland 2000WSRS members on a field trip to Inniskea Ireland 2000 group Poland 2001WSRS members in Poland 2001
WSRS29Field meeting at Howhill Norfolk June 2003
WSRS59The Sounds of Nature Groups In the New Forest Hampshire (The Sounds Of Nature Group was made up of visually impaired members assisted by sighted members)
 groupWSRS Field Meeting to Skokholm 2016 Norfolk0216 2008481WSRS Workshop 2016 at Snettisham RSPB reserve with Chris Watson (WSRS President) 
 WSRS61Howhill Norfolk  


50th Anniversary Members Day Slimbridge July 2018

 50membersday  50membersday 3
50membersday 7 Simon King presents the Silver Fox to Magnus Robb the overall winner of the WSRS competition, Sponsered by Sound Network
50membersday 6Simon King presenting the Restricted Category over all winner to Tony Fulford. Sponsered by Wildlife Watching Supplies.
50membersday 8Simon King presenting the Edith Scourey Award to Jenny Beasley 50membersday 9Simon King and Chris Watson exchanging memories from TV programmes they had worked on together.



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