The title refers to the phonetic vocalization of the Lapwing birdsong according to the RSPB Handbook of British Birds. The Lapwing is one of the most frequent visitors to the Rainham Marshes RSPB Reserve in Purfleet. The Reserve protects ancient, low-lying grazing marshland, re-purposed from the Ministry of Defence, historically used as a military firing range.
The film explores how this re-wildered pocket of nature is contained and consumed within different frames: optics, sound, architecture, security structures, science, taxonomy, culture and language, epitomized by the figure of the bird-watcher. Bird-watching acutely sharpens the senses, in order to have an observation in the present moment, often resisting the impulse to document and focusing instead on the practice of looking, listening and identifying.
The film is formed as a walk from day to night along the inner and outer peripheries of the Reserve, shot on colour 16mm film, using a hand-cranked camera. Situated on the edgelands between city and countryside in the transient landscape of the Thames Estuary, this is a place layered with traces of the ever shifting global narratives of empire, industry, commerce and migrations.
The sound is open-sourced from contributors to the online archive of world bird sounds xeno-canto.org With thanks to the Rainham RSPB Visitors and Staff.