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Archive for the ‘Náttúra’ Category

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Hjörleifshöfði is a 221 m-high inselberg in southern Iceland. It consists of palagonite. The mountain is located on the Mýrdalssandur outwash plain about 15 km east of the village Vík í Mýrdal, and was an island in the Atlantic Ocean several centuries ago (More info: Wikipedia).
I have very often visited this mountain, both those years when I was used to travel by bike in Iceland and now resent years when I am on my field recording trips.
But in recent years, mainly because of tourist traffic, it has not been so pleasant to stay there overnight to enjoy the natural soundscape, which can be a very different on each side of the mountain.
Thanks to COVID I got the opportunity on the 21st of June 2021 to record the soundscape on the west side without traffic noise from the main road, motor vehicles or tourists around me.
Even without traffic noise it has always been difficult to record this place because of the surf along the coast line which makes constant rumble in the background.
I arrived just before midnight. It was foggy but bright. This was last night before the summer solstice.
The weather forecast told me I would have more wind and even rain later in the morning so I quickly prepared the recording gear. I use the Kayak trailer behind the car to make a shelter from the breeze from the south and point the microphones toward the north in the middle of a big lupine field.
Most birds were mostly in the distance. But what makes the soundscape actually so interesting in this place is the redwing songs. They start their songs or themes differently from what I have heard in other places in Iceland. There are other places in Iceland where I have noticed this difference and it seems like it is somehow connected to places where lupine grows. These songs are also different between these „lupine locations“ e.g. Bæjarstaðarskógur in Skaftafell national park, while redwing songs sound pretty similar all over the country.
I have not investigated this in detail, but I have noticed this by listening to recordings from these locations and comparing them in spectrograms. What I need to do next is film them singing in these places to be sure I am actually listening to redwings (which is though 98% clear in my mind). Other things which make this a little bit difficult is the fact that not all birds sound similar in these locations so it is necessary to collect „closeup songs“ in good sound quality from several redwings to work with and investigate.
This is not my best quality recording, but it is almost impossible to record this place without traffic or surf noise. So I was just lucky to get this one.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at mid or low level
If the media player doesn’t start to play, please reload this individual blog in a new tab or frame.

(mp3 256kbps / 60Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Sennheiser MKH8020/8040.  (Parallel AB) 
Pix: Canon EOS R

Location: 63.424336, -18.763861
Weather: Calm to breeze. Foggy, around 10 °C

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The natural acoustic in Iceland for 8 months a year is little more than silence or noise created by the wind. It is obvious that my recording collection contains a large amount of this sound of silence. These are usually 6-10 hour long recordings. I usually do not listen to these recordings, but I run them all through a spectrogram to look for something interesting. Sometimes something interesting happens near the microphone, but it is rare. It is usually just different weather and of course the traffic that interrupts almost all recordings except for two to three hours overnight.
It was recently that the musician Hazal Elif Yalvaç contacted me and asked me about all kinds of „wind sounds“. So I searched through the collection, which made me find an interesting recording like this below.
It contains all kinds of wind sounds, both near the microphones and far away. The whole recording sounds like you are in the middle of a huge symphony orchestra. When it is calm and silent you can hear when the frost bites with a tiny „pop sound“. Straws and branches rub together in the wind and the ice breaks in the soil. Literally everything between falling snowflakes to strong winds blowing through tall trees in the distance.
This is a high gain recording (+50dB at rec.+ 20db in post) with microcosmic sound which was recorded in west Iceland 15th of February 2021.
This Gust symphony starts in Larghissimo, so be patient. The tempo will increase within a few minutes.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at mid level
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(mp3 256kbps / 62Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788 
Mics: Lewitt LCT540s  (IRT cross setup, mixed to stereo)
Pix: Canon EOS R

Location:  64.673367, -21.628704
Weather:  partly cloudy, slightly snowing, around -7 to -12°C

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It was at Sunday 19th of September 2021 that I suddenly decided to go on sea to record with the hydrophone. The weather- and tide forecast promise me a few hours of decent circumstances.
But when I arrive at the harbor, people there like to chat about my kayak and equipment. So when I finally went on I was getting late. The wind had increased and the tide was getting too low for the place where I was heading to, so after 4 km paddling I ended up beside a pier in Viðey island which is only 800m NE from Reykjavik Sundahöfn harbor.
I tied my boat to the pier and put the hydrophone about three meters below the boat. It surprised me how quiet this place was. Almost no sign of life, mussels or shrimps, probably because just 700 meter away is a dock for cruise ships which have most likely destroyed the ocean floor in this area with their powerful propellers.
Nevertheless the silence is as interesting in the ocean as the silence on open land, so it is worth listening to.
While I was recording, the ferry to Viðey came and went. So be careful, you need to lower the volume between 11 to 14 min because the propeller noise will be very loud .
You can get an idea how Bethowave 7121 hydrophones perform in this recording. It comes straight from the recorder. No noise reduction, just fade in and out and downgrade from 24/48 wav to 256 kbps mp3

(mp3 256 kbps / 58Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Benthowave BII-7121
Pix: LG G6

Location: 64.161135, -21.855538
Weather: Gust 5-8m, cloudy, about 7°C

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Snæfellsnes peninsula has long sand and gravel beaches, especially in the south.
These beaches can easily attract everyone who traveled there. So when I was there on the 1st of July 2021 I did a hike along the beach below the Langholt guesthouse (Garðafjara).
Surf is usually not interesting recording material and there are not many „surf recordings“ in my sound blog. But this beach had a special sound that night
I thought something was disturbing my hearing, but soon I noticed it was the gravel in the surf which made this sound. Instead to be almost constant pink noise, then the noise on this beach constantly changes with every wave. From brown noise to white noise.
As usual the recording gear is never far away so I record this interesting soundscape just before midnight. 

(mp3 256Kbps / 52Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6
Mics: Sennheiser MKH8020/8040 Parallel AB
Pix: Canon EOS R

Weather: Calm to 2m/sec, cloudy,  about 15°C
Location: 64.809722, -23.147333

 

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The eruption was in full action on the 17th of July 2021 and the weather forecast was fine, calm and dry when I decided to go and record at the eruption sites.
I decided to stay not near popular sightseeing places, so therefore I went by bike to get further away to another place at the lava field.
But when I arrived, there was a strong wind because both the eruption and the lava itself has its own weather system due to the heat in the area. Pollution was also high, so it was not easy to operate in the area.
Eventually I found a „good place“ where I had to block the microphones between rocks on the ground right by the glowing lava.
As soon as I pressed „Record“ the volcano stopped erupting and it did not erupt in the next few days, which is very typical for me.
It is quite descriptive of this eruption, although it is a small and beautiful „tourist eruption“, I have not been able to record the eruption itself these four times I have dragged equipment to the eruption sites. There have always been strong gusts and sometimes „small“ hurricanes around the volcano which have made sound recording very difficult. Plus, when it erupts it does not make much sound, especially when no water is involved in the eruption or the lava which would have made an explosion. But when the volcano is active the boiling lava sounds like boiling water in a huge pot.
Even though I could not record the eruption that day as was planned, I managed to record the lava itself without too much wind-, tourists chatting-, drones- and helicopter noise.
The lava did not seem to be moving while I was recording, but I could see embers in the cracks.
I have no clue what makes this „pop“ sound in the lava while I could not see it move. The sounds could be coming from the lava that was possibly rising when the liquid lava flowed under a thin shell crust. Or it just sounds like that when the lava cools down.
The gust rumbling sound in this recording sounds pretty similar as the eruption from the volcano so let’s play with with the imagination while listening.

  (mp3 256kbps / 56,3Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics. Sennheiser MKH8020/8040 (Parallel AB40)
Pix:  Canon EOS R

Location:  63.886300, -22.230307
Weather:  Gusty, 15°C and 35°C at the microphone place, cloudy and high gas pollution.

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For several years I have recorded the soundscape at the same spot when I visit a cottage in west Iceland. Every time I record there I get something different and interesting, all year around.  Forestry has changed the birdlife a lot on this spot in the last 20 years.  Birds like Redwings, Common Redpoll, Eurasian Wren and Starlings are now in increased numbers since the beginning in this century.
I recorded this spot overnight both 6th and 7th of July 2021.
Lot of chicks had already left the nests so the grass field around the microphones was full of birds searching for insects which can be heard in this recording.
The following recording is not an example of the „best part“ which I record these two mornings. It is just a part of the first WAV file at the 6th which I choose because of low traffic. So more of these two days’ recordings will be audible in this blog in the future.
The time is between 2:30 am to 3:05. It is calm and quiet in the beginning until the Common Snipe begins to make a noise with its tail. Young Redwings, Common Redshanks and Snipes are all around the microphones. Other birds are not far away such as European Golden Plovers, Whimbrel, White Wagtail, Eurasian Wren, Rock Ptarmigan, and Whooper Swans in the distance.
This was recorded with four channel IRT setup, but sadly one of the cable was broken so I could only use three of the channels which was though easy to mix into INA-3
This was recorded at 48dB gain (HPF@80hz). In post the gain was increased about 30dB plus gentle RX noise reduction.
Quality headphones are recommended while listening at low or mid level or in speaker at low level.
If the media player doesn’t start to play, please reload this individual blog in a new tab or frame.

(mp3 / 256mbps 69,8Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Lewitt LCT540  (IRT setup)
Pix: Canon EOS R

Location: 64.673368, -21.628709
Weather: Calm, cloudy, about 12°C
Other recordings from this location in Stafholtstungur:

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The spring of 2021 has either been windy and cold or windy and wet or both.
Even though birds are usually tough lifeforms, it has been clearly audible that they would like to have warmer days, so instead of filling the air with songs they have been quieter than other years.
Iceland is not rich with audible wildlife sounds. Everything sounds distant so if the air is unstable and wind is more than 2m/sec  then it starts to be difficult to record the wildlife   
From end of February until mid June it has been a very poor circumstances to record in an open field, mainly because of unpredictable and windy weather
In the second week of June I saw in the weather forecast a opportunity to get calm weather for a one day in Látrabjag cliffs so I packed my gear and set off.
On the way in Mjóifjörður I drove off the paved road and followed the old gravel main road to relax and make a coffee. I found a good spot. It was under a mountain slope, surrounded by low birch bush and wild flora. Beside me was a small brook and inside the bush was a shelter from the wind. The soundscape was full of life, so I put up the gear and started to record while taking a nap. 

  (mp3 256kbps / 59.7Mb)

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

Location: 65.614159, -22.823796
Weather: Cloudy, dry, 10-15m/sec, 7°C  

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Here is one of my „COVID recordings“ that I managed to record by Glacier lagoon, Jökulsárlón near the lagoon outfall.
This place is close to the ring road around Iceland so it is usually overcrowded by tourists and other traffic all year round, almost 24/7. I have only been able to dream of recording this place without traffic and human interruption.
But thanks to COVID, on the 10th of June 2020 I managed to record there without too much interruption.
The soundscape is different in this place, but the recording here below is typical for summer soundscape. When I first went to this place some decades ago the glacier was much closer, I guess about 2km away, but today it is about 8km away and much thinner. The sounds from the glacier have almost disappeared. But on the lagoon are large icebergs that melt down rapidly near the lagoon’s outfall. They can emit interesting sounds when they break in pieces.
Arctic terns have nested beside the outfall in many years, but probably because of traffic they seem to have moved the biggest colony closer to the glacier.  In the eighties and nineties when I passed this place every year by bike, Great Skua dominated this area with nests in many places.. But today this big bird is hardly seen near the outfall compared to how it was thirty years ago. Arctic Skua is a common bird there as it has been before.
This recording was made a few hundred meters east from the lagoon outfall.
Not far from the microphone are stranded icebergs which are constantly melting with all kinds of sound.
Most common birds in this recording are Arctic tern, Northern Fulmar, Black Headed Gull, and Razorbill. Other species are audible too.
Common Eiders come quietly close to the microphone and Seals have a fight or mating not far away,
The main background noise is a rumble from heavy surf along the Atlantic ocean coastline  several hundreds meters behind the microphones. Traffic from the ring road no1 is also audible.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at mid level.
If the media player doesn’t start to play, please reload this individual blog in new tab or frame.

  (mp3 256kbps / 65.5Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6
Mics: Lewitt LCT540s (NOS)
Pix: Canon EOS-R

Weather: Cloudy, calm, around 8°C
Location: 64.052841, -16.178658

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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)

Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at mid level.
If the media player doesn’t start to play, please reload this individual blog in new tab or frame

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)

Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.
If the media player doesn’t start to play, please reload this individual blog in new tab or frame

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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