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Earthquakes have shaken southwestern Iceland for more than two weeks. They have been counted in many thousands since it began so folks like me are going to feel like all earthquakes below 4 in magnitude are a normal state
But not everyone feels the same way. All those who live close to the source of the earthquakes are going to be very tired of this situation, mainly inhabitants of Grindavík town and nearby places.
When I was working on this blog as an example, an earthquake hit my house which was 5.4 magnitude. It is similar in magnitude as those which first heard in the recording below.
The following earthquakes were recorded in my garage in Reykjavik which is 25-30Km from the earthquake’s source.
The first two earthquakes were recorded with parallel Nevaton MC59O & MC59C, on four channels in  AB40 setup. All other earthquakes were recorded using the Nevaton MC50Quad in MS setup. These Nevaton microphones are the only ones I have that can reach below 10Hz and can therefore also record the fluctuations in the aftershocks.
This recording contains sixteen earthquakes, collected from continuous one week long recording. They are mainly earthquakes which happen during the nighttime to avoid traffic noise. Most of them were above 3 magnitude…I guess.  

(mp3 256Kbps / 24,4Mb)

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Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Nevaton MC59O & MC59C parallel in AB setup and MC50 Quad
Pix: Screenshot of the first two earthquakes in the recording

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In recent years I have spent several nights in Skeiðarársandur to record the changes in the ecosystem.
Skeiðarársandur is a huge broad sandy wasteland along Iceland’s south-eastern coast, between the Vatnajökull icecap and the sea. It is a wonderful place to record deep natural silence in a huge open flat landscape.
For hundreds of years Skeiðarársandur has been a barren desert. but recently with shrinking glaciers and smaller glacial rivers, Birch, moss and other flora have occupied the northeast part of the sand. That means the soundscape on Skeiðarársandur will change in the future which will be interesting to record regularly in the coming years.
I have usually stayed at the same spot near a traditional sheep pen because structures like that are attractive for birds like Snow bunting, Northern wheatear and Rock ptarmigan.
I was very excited when I went to this spot on the 9th of June 2020. Because of COVID, there were almost no tourists in Iceland and therefore far less traffic.  So I was hoping for a beautifully quiet night there. I was not disappointed either. It was calm so the silence was deep. I could hear the Atlantic ocean surf among the coastline 20-30km away, which sounds slightly like low frequency rumble in the background of this recording. I could not see any bird but bird songs came from every direction, clearly far away. During the night the glacier rumbled several times in Skaftafell national park like a thunder in the distance. Once a ship engine noise was audible out of the coastline which sounds pretty spooky. It sounds more coming from the sky rather than from the coastline in the horizon, which was probably a reflection from different temperature layers in the atmosphere.
Anyway the ship engine is not audible in the following recording, but maybe in another blog.
The microphone rig was on the top of the sheep pen wall, not far away from the place which I think Northern wheatear has had a nest every year since I started to record this place. (Listen to recording since mid May 2016)
Luckily the Northern wheatear was not far away. This time the bird was not as angry about the hairy microphones as when I first brought the microphones in this place. The bird just sang for me for almost one hour and here comes part of it.

  (mp3 256kbps / 67,7Mb)

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Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Lewitt LCT540s (IRT Cross)
Pix: Canon EOS-R 

Weather:  Calm to 5m/sek, clear sky, 3 to 7°C
Location:  63.969925, -17.160018

 

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Shortly after I set up my gear in a safe spot near the lagoon beneath the Svínafellsjökull ice fall. I heard thunder behind the Hafrafell mountain
Two minutes later and suddenly all icebergs in the lagoon began to move around like corks in a boiling pot. Big waves paralyzed the shores of the lagoon, in some places for many meters.
„Shit“ was my first thought. „I was not in the right place“. I should have been on the other side of the lagoon and closer to the glacier, where I have spent hours and days in recent years trying to record incidents like this without success. I ran to the lagoon to see what was going on.
…Or maybe I was lucky to be where I was. I saw big waves go far up on the shore at the place where I have been recording the past years. I probably would have damage or destroyed the Phantom power adapters inside the hydrophones XLR´s.plugs   
Thanks to COVID I was now in a place which has been impossible to record because of the tourist explosion in recent years.
Two microphones were now placed under a high steep crawl on the lagoon´s west bank, 5 meters above the lagoon surface. Below the microphones, two hydrophones were put in the lagoon between big rocks to prevent them from getting crushed or touched by icebergs. It was a bad placement for a successful underwater recording. But I  remember quite well what happened in this lagoon few years ago. So I was sure I would lose them both and probably something more if I threw them deeper into the lagoon. 
Although the outcome is OK, even though the hydrophones did not pick up the whole soundscape underneath the lagoon’s surface. 
The glacier calving starts in this recording at 3:15 min far away and behind the Hafrafell mountain, so it doesn’t sound very loud. But it makes a big wave in the lagoon which makes a chain reaction of a few other glacier calving.
Just before the first incident you can hear the hydrophone pick up a sound of crushing ice. It would have been much louder if the hydrophones have been deeper in the lagoon. But recording glacier lagoons is not an easy task when the lagoon is full of ice which can flip without warning.  
This recording was made in the late afternoon so traffic noise from rode no:1 is audible in the background. But compared to recent years, it is nothing. Thanks to COVID.   
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at medium level.

(mp3 256kbps / 48Mb)

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Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6 
Mics: Lewitt LCT540s (NOS) & Aquarian H2n XLR (Spaced AB)
Pix: Canon EOS R

Location: 64.007567, -16.880922
Weather: Cloudy, calm,  +11°C  
 

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There is a place near Fjallsjökull glacier I have tried to record several times in recent years. But I´ve never been happy with the result.  Mainly because of noisy traffic from road no.1 and/or surf noise from Breiðamerkurfjara beach or because of weather.
But COVID19 gave me an wonderful opportunity to record this place without tourist traffic in June 2020.
This place is a small glacial corrie south of Fjallsjökull glacier. It is a small, wet area, with several fresh water springs. Arctic flora brings lots of birds to this place so the soundscape can be very interesting with a rumbling glacier in the background.
This is a part of several hours long recording. The time is around 5 o’clock in the morning. Flock of noisy Barnacle geese has already landed not far away from the microphones. Through the whole recording these Barnacle geese come closer and closer to the microphones, so be careful, in the end they get loud.  Early in the recording two Whimbrels sing an interestingly long „love song“. Other birds are audible too, like Golden plover, Dunlin, Rock Ptarmigan and Red Throated Diver.
Once, about 2km away, a big piece of ice breaks off the glacier into the lagoon with noisy consequences.
Background noise is mainly a surf from the ocean behind the microphones, about 5 km away.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

(mp3 256kbps / 62Mb)

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Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics. Lewitt LCT540s (NOS setup)
Pix: Canon EOS-R

Weather: Calm, Cloudy, about 4°C
Location: 64.010735, -16.391960

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Recording Icelandic glaciers aims to be my main passion for the coming years.
Unfortunately, I feel I’m starting too late because the sounds have changed significantly over the last 20-30 years. It is because they have lost a lot of mass, especially on the edges of the glaciers where they mainly produce sound.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to get to places where a glacier is crawling because there are no roads or tracks near the places that are considered suitable for recording today.
Not enough. Most of the glaciers are within national parks and protected areas today. Therefore, I need to apply for a permit to go to various places within the national park to record.
Once in place, it is not a given that it is possible to record exactly where it would be best to get an interesting sound. It must be taken into account that glaciers are not playgrounds and they can be dangerous. Glacier lagoons’ coastline are also dangerous when large pieces of ice fall from glaciers and large icebergs flip over and break down in pieces.
Weather conditions are also important. I am used to record continuously for many hours, even days, so calm and dry weather most of the time is always on the wish list.  
Last summer Jökulsárlón lagoon and Breiðamerkurjökul glacier were my main targets. It was slightly more difficult than I thought in the beginning, mainly because I did not have a clue what microphones worked best for this project so I brought with me microphones for all kinds of situations which is a hell a lot of stuff. In the end it was my parallel MKH8020/8040 rig which worked best for this glacier project last summer. Mainly because glaciers are not so quiet and therefore microphones with the lowest noise floor are not so important . 
It takes me almost two hours to sail on pedal Kayak with all luggage to the location near the glacier. I started immediately to record with two recorders after arriving. Then it takes me almost a day to find the best location for the microphones. It was not the best place to get the highest quality of sound recording. But they were sheltered from the wind and in safe distance from big waves or tsunami from the lagoon.
This following recording is a part of a 20 hour recording on this location. 
WARNING. This recording has a wide dynamic range. It includes several blasts (especially at 6:34) which are very loud that can damage speakers, headphones or your hearing if played too loud.
As usual for nature recordings it has not got any process in post. Just add gain about 20dB. Therefore is clipping inevitable in the „blast“ at 6:34.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

(mp3 256kbps / 56,3Mb)
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Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Sennheiser MKH8020/8040 in Parallel AB40. Mixed50/50%
Pix: Canon EOS R

Location: 64.109285, -16.243593
Weather: 4°C 2-4m/sek, cloudy

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The weather in Snæfellsnes peninsula, west Iceland was beautiful in the last weekend of August 2020. Me and two other friends went there to record nature sounds. Recordings were made from the noisy coastline to the silence on Snæfellsjökull glacier, a glacier which will disappear most likely within the next two decades because of global warming. 
It is sad because this glacier is iconic for the novel „Journey to the Center of the Earth“ by Jules Verne   
It was not only good weather this August weekend. The tourist traffic was very low because of COVID19 so it gave me the opportunity to record places which have been impossible to record without traffic noise and human voices during the last 10 years.  
One of the peaceful places this weekend was Arnarstapi, a small community south of the peninsula. The coastline below is mostly made of basalt columns, which forms all kinds of natural artwork in the cliffs, caves and fissures with and without stone bridges. 
During the summer time the habitats of these cliffs are mainly a Kittiwake but most of them were gone to the sea this weekend so the cliffs were quieter than one month earlier.
I decided to record in one of the fissures named Eystrigjá. Eystrigjá is a rather narrow and one of those who have a natural stone bridge.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

(mp3 256kbps / 43Mb)
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Recorder. Sound devices MixPre6  
Mics: Sennheiser MKH8020/8040 in Parallel AB40. Mixed50/50%
Pix: LG G6

Location: 64.768392, -23.616746
Weather: Sunny, calm, 16°C 

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Thanks to COVID, I got a unique opportunity this summer to record in places I have so far not been able to record because of traffic, mainly due to tourists. One such site was Skeiðarársandur, a broad sandy wasteland along Iceland’s south-eastern coast, between the Vatnajökull icecap and the sea. This area has been a „desert“ with deadly glacial rivers for centuries. But due to global warming and receding glaciers, rivers have disappeared. Instead, vegetation like moss, grass and trees has occupied some areas without human intervention.
It is therefore obvious that biodiversity will change significantly in the coming years.
Here is a part of an 8-hour-long recording that was taken just east of the dry riverbed of Skeiðarár, which was a huge glacial river for centuries until a few years ago when it disappeared due to changes in Skeiðarárjökull glacier.
This is a recording of silence. The microphones were placed beside a small creek which can be found all over Skeiðarársandur. Because of the wind I did not use a tripod, they just stood on the windshield on the ground which gave a pretty good result.
The background noise is mainly a gust of wind stroking the ground and surf among the coast, about 20-30Km away
Birds in this recording are Common Ringed Plover, European Golden Plover, Dunlin, Purple Sandpiper, Common Snipe, Whimbrel, Common Redshank, Whooper Swan, Greylag Goose.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.
The name of this blog „Dögun við Eyrar“ means „Dawn at Eyrar“ (Eyrar is the name of the place)
Other recordings from Skeiðarársandur can be found here

( mp3 256kbps / 63Mb )
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Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Lewitt LCT540s (IRTcross) channels counter clockwise 1-2-3-4 = L-R-L-R
Pix: Canon Eos R

Loation: 63.972468, -16.956438
Weather: Clear sky. Gust up to 6m/sec. around 10°C
Recording time between 5.am to 6.am

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This following recording was made between 03:00 and  04:00, It is a part of seven hours long recording between 02:00 and 09:00 which I did in Skálholt, south Iceland 10th of July.
The grass was tall so the microphones were almost hidden in the grass. Lots of birds were in this grass searching for food and some of them came close to the microphones.
This is a typical soundscape of silence in a countryside which is not disturbed by traffic or by other engine noise.
Imagen you self standing in a grassland.  Front of you is a wide open wetland field.  Behind you is a  small hill with tall trees  which make a reflection of some bird calls. Two rivers are in the distance with flocks of whooper swans. The birds are all around you but mostly quiet and busy searching for flies and other insects in the grass all around you.
The recording contains many birds. Like Common Snipe, Golden Plover, Whimbrel, Raven, Common Redshank, Black Tailed Godwit, White Wagtail, Black headed Gull, Rooster, Winter Wren, Northern Wheatear, Snow Bunting, Rock Ptarmigan, Common Starling, Redwing, Whooper Swan, Eurasian Oystercatcher and probably other species.
This recording was made with four Lewitt LCT540s microphones in IRT cross. All capsules are 90° & 30cm apart which was in post mixed to two 180° stereo.
This recording is highly gained with a wide dynamic range so keep it in mind, some moments can be loud
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

This recording is my contribution for the world listening day 18th of July 2020

  (mp3 256kbps / 60Mb)
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Recorder: MixPre6
Mics: Lewitt LCT540s (IRT cross 90¨/30cm)
Pix: Canon EOS R

Location: 64.121864, -20.534631
Weather: Calm, cloudy, around 12°C

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I recently noticed the best tripod I can get to avoid high levels of „mechanical wind noise“ in recordings. It is simply a hummock. I have many times recorded nature sound by leaving omni mics on the ground. But it has not been as simple for cardioid mics because it changes the EQ on the frequency range, especially when the mics are in the windshield.
Here below is a recording I did in Flói bird reserve in south Iceland. The average wind was probably around 4-5m/sec with some gust up to 5-7m/sec. The high pass filter was at 40Hz so mechanical wind noise should be with a typical tripod clearly audible at 3m/sec.
Keep in mind this is a recording of silence. It was barely nothing audible while this was recorded
It was recorded with 48dB gain and in post the gain was increased again about 27dB.
Most of the background noise is the surf on the south coast which is very noisy. The wind is almost constantly wiping the ground and airplanes make a rumble noise for many minutes. You will also hear wind noise but far less than it would have been with a typical tripod. 
One of the reasons I think it is so effective to put the rig on the ground, is mainly because the LCT540s is a heavy mic. So while the windshield lay so heavily on the ground, the ground works like a damper for all vibration on the windshield which therefore make less „mechanical wind noise“
Most bird species are in distance so this is not a very attractive recording. But many things are going on in this wide open space in south Iceland and it is always interesting to listen to soundscape which is too quiet for most human ear.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

(mp3 256kbps / 60Mb)
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Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Lewitt LCT540s IRTcross setup
Pix: Canon EOS R
Location: 63.901024, -21.192173
Weather: cloudy, calm up to 7m/sec, around 12°C

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In mid April I was asked in a radio interview about field recordings, what was my favorite bird. My quick answer was „Starling“….or, I was not sure. But that was going to be clear a few days later.     
Starling is a new immigrant in Iceland. It was first seen 1940 in Hornafjörður, south east Iceland and in Reykjavik 1960. So today it is a very common bird in many urban places around Iceland, however, mainly in south west Iceland
His song is usually a loud high frequency tweet or rough ugly scream. But some starlings seem to have the ability to learn complex sounds and tweed them unbelievably well.   
Thanks to COVID-19, Reykjavik city gets very quiet with less traffic in April, which open a completely new and lovely natural soundscape in the city
So it gives me a great opportunity to record the bird life to the finest details in my garden in several days.
The following recording are selected moments of a 10 hours long recording which I made over night on the 25th to 26th of April in the garden  I use Audio Technica, AT4022 which I place with 50cm apart, on the ground, where I usually feed the birds during the winter moths. I use a simple foam as a windshield and hide them in brown nylon socks. 
I guess it is only one bird that imitates all the songs or sounds in this recording, which is totally outstanding. He imitates birds like ravens, seagulls, blackbird and redwing, which sounds even better than the original redwing song, golden plower, goose, duck, oystercatcher, great northern diver, common redpoll, snow bunting… and I am sure some other species too. You can also hear him imitate ambulance, rubber toy, dog and humans. 
If you recognize some other sounds, birds or animal species in this recording, please leave a comment below.
So one thing is for sure. I did not lie in the radio interview. starling is my favorite bird.
Please notice this recording have a wide dynamic range, so don´t play it loud. Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.
  

(mp3 256kbps / 65,2Mb)
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Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6
Mics: Audio Techinca AT4022 AB50/boundary
Pix: Canon EOS30

Weather: Cludy, calm about 5°C 
The whole radioprogram with the interview – and only with me, Magnus Bergsson (sorry, only in Icelandic)

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