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Posts Tagged ‘Fuglahljóð’

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It has been several years since I published a recording from Flói nature reserve. The reason is more or less because of foul weather in recent years when I have had the opportunity to record there.
It was no exception last summer from late April to mid July. It was cold, windy and wet most of the time which is actually the high season for birdsong recording.
I went there on the 3rd of July 2021 and recorded overnight. The weather was calm in the beginning but the wind increased over the night. I was also struggling with increased sea tide and therefore a surf noise from the coast line, actually at the same time when the birds were most active during the dawn.
My mics were Lewitt LCT540s in IRT cross setup. Most of the bird’s activity was in front of channel 1&2. Most „silence“ was in front of channel 2&3 and most of the surf and traffic noise was at channel 4&1.
It surprised me how much traffic was there the whole night. There was almost constant rumble in the air during the ten hours I was recording, except between four and five o’clock in the morning. This noise was much more audible than I remember in my earlier recordings. The reason could be found in different mic setup and mics. Ten years ago I used to use NT1a in NOS or AB, pointing towards the open field and keeping the nearest road and coastline behind. I have also used MKH20 in AB which is less sensitive for these details than large capsule mics.
It takes time to search in this 10 hour long recording for some nice sounding 30 minutes moments. Listening to the whole four channels it starts with heavy traffic noise in all channels, then surf noise. Then traffic noise again until the wind and the sun makes the air so unstable close to noon, both traffic noise and bird activity almost disappear in the wind noise.
But with an IRT cross rig I have many options. I can turn off the channel or channels which are disturbing for the soundscape I am looking for.
The recording below is a very good example of this. Instead of using all four channels and mixing them to stereo, I use only channel 2&3 (NOS 90°/30cm) to avoid the surf noise. The time when it starts is about 04:15 so there is almost no traffic noise, but anyway, the recording starts and ends with some engine noise in the distance.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at mid or low level.
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Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Lewitt LCT540s,  NOS 30cm/90°
Pix: Canon EOS R

Location: 63.900944, -21.191958
Weather: Calm to breeze, partly cloudy, ca 5-10°C

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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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