There is a little nature reserve by the canal near the football ground, an oasis of calm. The water is sluggish with green on top apart from where the water seems to well up from the river bed in these gently roiling clear pools. I don’t think the water makes any sound here, there is some background traffic noise which would mask it.
The nature reserve was improved by the Access to Nature project in 2012. It’s easy to be cynical about some of these projects but this one seems to have worked really well, and there was a lot more birdsong in this part of path by the canal than in the unimproved bits.
Seems like it’s been a successful year for our swifts, they have been breeding and screaming parties are heard overhead.
They’re still as hard to record as they were last year, however there are more of them it seems. I got the AT XY mics on the job this time. Maybe next year I will try a seriously long boom pole to get the mic pointed straight up in the air and use the directional pattern against some of the noise and traffic rumble of the town, but I’m still of the view swifts sound best in the city!
The research became the basis of ‘Acoustic Ecology’, a discipline that R. Murray Schafer developed to further investigate ‘soundscapes’, which are understood as the sonic interface between living beings and their environment.
World Listening Day is held on his birthday to celebrate Schafer’s contribution to the art of listeing to the world, rather than just hearing it. I’ve usually aimed to try and isolate sounds, other than in the lo-fi urban environment where you just can’t do that. However, in tribute to R. Murray Schafer’s ideas, I had a go, starting off with the birds at dawn. It’s a bit past the time for the classic dawn chorus, but these birds in a semi-rural location in Rushmere made a decent attempt at a soundscape for me.
For a change I tried an urban field recording at Ipswich Marina, this recording starts with oystercatchers at the beginning, to the right is the sound of some construction work that has been restarted after a couple of years. A woman in a RIB motors to her boat moored somewhere in the marina which is mainly to the left. Some foot and bicycle traffic passes. The waterfront has been redeveloped for leisure over the last decade.
Binaural recording with Soundman OKMII
Finally I gave in to the separator in me and recorded the sound of this tarmac laying crew and their machine, in particular the backing up sound.
Swifts are one of the fantastic soundmarks of summer, and they sound at their best in the city, with their high-pitched screaming resonating from the houses all around. You get them in rural parts too, but the sound needs the hard surfaces of the city when they come in low at rooftop height in the warm summer evenings. According to the BTO they like towns.
The Devil’s Bird is the devil’s own job to record, too. You don’t try and track them, there’s just no hope to get anything directional on the job, and the screaming groups tend to spread out as they get close too. Just don’t even think of using a parabolic dish or a shotgun mic 😉
This one is basically the Olympus LS-10 with internal mics propped in a first-floor window, and snipped out of a long trawl for swifts, Then I used a parametric EQ to hit some of the town traffic rumble.
There’s a spinney nearby, so over the holidays I got myself into the tree and rigged a pair of omnis, and stood really still. The first thing I heard was the mournful repeated tone of the collared dove, a steady counterpoint to the recording, with its mournful ho-HOO-hoo, with the stress on the first syllable. Later on the woodpigeon appears, with its ho-hoo-HOO-HOO-ho-hoo, and there are various other birds flitting around in the undergrowth.
It was a very windy day, so there is a lot of wind noise in the trees, which adds atmosphere for me, reminding me of a special moment with the birds
My bike ride to work takes me past open fields and for a short stretch over some sandy heathland. I was surprised to hear a nightingale in the distance – I had to stop and listen to the lovely sound
this was recorded using an omni MP3 recorder so it’s not a fantastic species recording, but it captures the moment for me 🙂 The singing males have come all the way from Africa, and they have scouted their territories. They are hoping to call the females down from the sky as they arrive a couple of weeks later. It feels surprisingly early to hear nightingale song at the moment.