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Posts Tagged ‘Fuglahljóð’

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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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Two years ago, when I was recording in Skaftafell National Park, I noticed that Redwings sing differently between two places in the park. In the forest around Skaftafellsheiði, above the campsite and the information center, the redwings sing quiet „normal songs“ as most Redwings do in Iceland. But in nearby valley, in Morsárdalur in Bæjarstaðakógur forest, most of the Redwings colony start their song with two long tones before the „normal song“ starts.
I have search my recordings for something interesting. What makes it different and what is common with this Redwing songs which will probably bring me, or someone else, to further research.
But I will not talk about it here, because that will be another story.
By slowing down the recording four times (1min > 4min) it makes a totally new soundscape. It sounds like a rain forest full of screaming monkeys. It opens my mid for different understanding on birdsong. Redwing’s song is much more complex than I thought. They are far from being singing the same melody or make a simple message all the time. It sounds more like a complex language.
It does not matter what they are doing. Are they speaking to each other, sending messages or singing a complex song to the crowd, it always leave the question: What are they doing and what does it all mean?
Following recording was recorded last summer in Bæjarstaðaskógur. You can hear this special Redwing start his song with its two tones before he continues with a „normal“ song.
In the normal speed recording at 2:40, you will hear a rumble from the Morsárjökull glacier which was about 10km away
Background noise is mostly from streaming water in the mountains and the Morsá river.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

Normal speed.
(mp3 256kbps / 12Mb)

Slow speed (4x).
(mp3 256kbps /41Mb)

Recorder: Sonosax SR-X4+ (24/48)
Mics: Sennheier MKH20 (AB40)
Pics: Canon EOS-M

Weather: Light cloud, showers around, calm, 10°C
Location: 64.058877,-17.024021

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