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Posts Tagged ‘Common Starling’

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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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After a dark winter with an awful weather nothing is as pleasant when migrant birds arrive to the country in the spring. Most birds arrive in April and May, and few species in Mars and June. So in mid May the air is loaded with birds song. What amazes me always is the fact that many of these birds are coming far distances from hot claimed continents like Africa and when they arrive they still have the power to fly around and sing almost 24/7 in several weeks.
It was no exception to this on May 12, 2019 when I arrived at Stafholtstungur in SW of Iceland  with my recording gear. Lot of snow was still in the mountains and the weather was cold but dry.
There are many bird species in this recording. Common Snipe, Golden Plover, Whimbrel, Common Redshank, Black Taled Godwit, White Wagtail, Winter Wren, Northern Wheatrxear, Snow Bunting, Rock Ptarmigan, Common Starling, Redwing, Great Northern Diver, Read Throated Diver, Whooper Swan, Graylag Goose and probably other species too.
This is a part of 9 hour recording I record over night with four Lewitt LCT540s microphones in IRT cross setup.   
Even though this part was recorded early morning, between 3:00 & 3:30, the recording is disturbed by human traffic in air and on ground. Wind noise which is usually difficult to avoid are audible in some moments. 
I do not strictly follow the rules about the IRT setup. I have 30cm / 90° between all capsules.
Counting clockwise normal arrangement for the channels are 1-2-3-4  to  L-R & Rs-Ls. But I pair these four channels L-R-L-R into stereo. This allows me to record 360° soundscape with four separated microphones without exactly noticing any time errors.
At the same time I also have four stereo recordings into individual directions which can be useful in some circumstances.
The problem with this „IRT stereo mix“ is that I can´t locate the direction of the sound source. But if I need that information I can always get it in the original recording file. 
In this recording Ch1 is facing to north, Ch2 to east, Ch3 to south and Ch 4 to west
This is a high gained recording. Recorder with 50dB gain, plus 24dB in post, close to be normalized (-3dB). So this is a „quiet“ recording even though it seems to be loud.. Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

(mp3 256kbps / 62Mb)
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 arrangement)
Pics: Canon EOS-M
Location: 64.673439, -21.628673
Weather: Calm to light gust, Cloudy  about 2°C 

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This two midsummer recordings were made around four o´clock in the morning 15th of July 2017 nearby Arnarholt farm in Stafholtstungur, in west of Iceland. It is recorded on two stereo channels with two different microphones because usually every time I recorded in this place the recordings has been disturbed by traffic noise all night long. But somehow for some unexplained reason no car went around nearby road for more than two hours, so I got a wonderful recording this morning.
I placed those two microphone rigs very close to each other and pointed them toward north. Afterwards I could not decided which of those recordings were better so it is yours to decide which you like.
There are many bird species in this recording. Common Snipe, Golden Plover, Whimbrel, Common Redshank, Black Taled Godwit, White Wagtail, Black headed Gull, Winter Wren, Northern Wheatear, Snow Bunting, Rock Ptarmigan, Common Starling, Redwing, Great Northern Dever, Whooper Swan, Graylag Goose and probably other species. Birds like Starling and Redwing are flying between branches in nearby trees.

My favorite microphones for nature recordings are Sennheiser MKH20 an omni-directional condenser microphone and Rode NT1A (slightly modified), a large capsule cardioid polar pattern studio condenser microphone. Both these mics have lowest self-noise available on the market.
I am used to use MKH20 in AB setup which mean the mics are in 40-45cm spaced parallel position (AB40). Then I turn the capsules 2-5° outward which gave me sometimes slightly „wider or more open space feeling“. This setup give me a stereo recording, 360° surround the rig.
My second best omni-directional ultra low noise mic for nature recordings is AT4022 but it does not sound as „musical“ or „natural“ as MKH20, so it is not as often in my tool box,
Cardioid mic detect sound mainly from one direction. so I use NT1A in different circumstances.
Lets say I like to record a birdsong. At the same time it is disturbed with unwanted noise, coming from another direction like waterfall, river flow, surf or traffic noise. I can place the backside of the cardioid mic to the noise source which mean I will get less of the unwanted noise and more of the birdsong.
In last two or three years I have not used NT1A in ORTF or NOS setup for outdoor recordings. But instead use AB4, same as for MKH20, which seems to give less phase error for the sound behind the rig.

These two recordings are NOT good examples for this two different mics in critical circumstances because no car passed by behind the rigs and most of the birds activity was also front of the rigs. But it gives a nice insight how this two different mics sounds and how the self-noise act in „quiet“ nature recordings.
NT1A was inside Rycote Cyclone + fur. MKH20 was inside Rycote WS2 windshield + fur. Both rigs are in AB40 +3°
I use MixPre6 in this recording. There is no doubt, the new Sound devices Kashmir mic preamplifier is ultra low noise and a sweet step forward to get better field recordings.
The HPF was at 40Hz and the gain was at 50dB for NT1A and 43dB for MKH20. The gain settings mainly get this arrangement because then both rigs sounds have equal level in the headphones while I was recording. In post the gain was increased almost 30dB on both stereo channels, up to -10dB.
Specrogram shows „all“ frequencies was bellow 8Khz so to lower unwanted mic self-noise I pull everything above 10Khz down with EQ (-5db @ 11Khz & -30dB @ 15Khz) .
This is a „quiet“ recording which mean you should listen to it at low level in quality headphones or speakers in quiet place.

NT1A recording
(mp3, 256kbps / 50,6Mb)

MKH20 recording
(mp3, 256kbps / 50,6Mb)

Here are two shorter version of this recording but now without high frequency cutoff and the gain level is normalized up to 0dB, so it should be easy to hear the mic self-noise in low quality headphones and PC amplifiers.
It is also easy to notice that MKH20 is covering 360° of the surround soundscape, while NT1A is only covering 180° with less bird songs and other activity.

NT1A. Without high freq cut off, normalized to 0dB
(mp3, 256kbps / 11Mb)

MKH20 Without high freq cut off, normalized to 0dB
(mp3, 256kbps / 11Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Rode NT1a and Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40 setup)
Pix. Canon EOSM

Location: 64.673460, -21.629304
Weather: Calm, cloudy, ca. 7°C

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I am used to feed birds daily in my garden with all kinds of leftovers.
There are always some birds that watch my garden every day, and when they see me in the garden, some starling give a high pitch signal and some of them fly away. But shortly after that they come back with a flock of other birds, normally common starlings and redwings. Some birds like one blackbird and some redwings are now extra gentle around me while I prepare the food in the garden.
Christmas day, 25th of December 2016, was just like another „feeding day“. But it was snowing, so the traffic noise wash less than usual and therefore a perfect day to record a birds activity.
This recording starts slowly. Just few birds have arrived when the recording starts. But in the end the birds have eaten almost everything and they start singing, packed in the trees all a around my house.

(224kbps / 48Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Rode NT1a in Rycote Cyclone (AB50 setup)
Pix: GoPro Hero3
Weather: Cloudy, light breeze, snowing and -3°C

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