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Posts Tagged ‘Rock Ptarmigan’

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Hólmavatn is a heath lake in the interior in west of Iceland between the two valley Kjarrárdalur and Hvítársíða. It is a part of a big lake system on a heath named Arnarvatnsheiði.
I have once before record the soundscape by this lake before. That was mostly a struggle with wind all the time, so I did not get anything interesting.
But at 22nd of June 2019 the weather forecast was perfect for this area, clear sky and calm most of the night.
I arrived with my gear around 9 pm at my previous recording place. It was still windy and some anglers about 500m away east of the lake. I quickly put up my rigs knowing that a calm weather meant just lot of gnats. I decided to put a two stereo pairs close to the shore, facing out to the lake. LCT450s in NOS about 60 m east from my car and MKH20 pair 70 m in the west. Suddenly around 11pm the wind stopped to blow and I started the recording.
What glorious soundscape. All those small tiny things and all those bird species. The LCT540s sounds much cleaner and brighter than MKH20, I guess mainly because of the different location.
But there was a big problem which I did not notice with my bare ears. The anglers made so much noise it was clear they would destroy my „natural silence“ recordings this night. They were playing a radio all the time, talking, starting car engines, and even worse, soon after I started the recording two of them started a motor boat. All this noise lasted for about two or two and a half hours.
Later that night when this noisy anglers were gone, all the birdsong became calm and less active. I am not sure why, but afterwards when I listened to the recordings it seemed like the anglers on the boat were disturbing birds on their habitat.
Following recording is a part of this „anglers moment“, probably the best part because the motorboat was mostly far east on the lake most of this time.
In the beginning of the recording you can clearly hear tiny sparks. It is coming from foam which forms between stones in the shore during windy days. When the bobbles in this foam blows, they make this tiny sparking sound. During the recording the sparks get fewer and lower because the weather is calm and no waves on the lake.
But there are so many bird species I guess I will not know them all. Great Northern Diver, Read Throated Diever, Arctic Tern, Whooper Swan, Pink Footed Goose, Black Headed Gull, Golden Plower, Dunlin, Whimbrell, Common Snipe, Common Redshank, Arctic Skua, Rock Ptarmigan and probably some other which you are welcome, if you know, to name in comments below.
You will hear the fish jumping and Arctic Tern hunting on the lake surface. Other background noise other than human noise from anglers is mainly from the river Kjarrá which flows in the Kjarrárdalur valley 4Km north of the lake .
This recording got a gently noise reduction, mainly because of high gain.
It was recorded with 47dB gain. In post the gain was normalized +26dB up to -5dB
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at medium level.

(mp3 256kbps / 68Mb)

Recorder: Sonosax SX-R4+
Mics: Lewitt LCT540s (NOS setup)
Pix: Canon EOS M50
Location: 64.799603, -20.895132
Weather: Dry. Mostly calm up to 5m/sec

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For a long time I have used Rode NT1a for nature recordings. It is a very good mic to capture the finest details in quiet soundscapes. But at the same time there is something missing in the sound quality, especially when it comes to low frequency and „audio depth“.
Last summer I got interest in IRT cross mic setup, so there was a perfect opportunity to invest in other microphones. There were not many mics to choose from with extra low self noise. Nevaton in Russia makes very interesting low noise & high sensitive mics. But my experience with MC50Quad was it did not capture the finest details of the silence as clearly as NT1a or MKH20. So I decided to invest in Lewitt LCT540s which I got for a acceptable nice price (See comparison)
I built a special shock mount for the LCT540s inside Rycote AE windshields (ORTF WS kit P/N:080210). That AE windshield is wider than normal WS windshield, especially made for stereo rigs so it is very good for large capsule, side address mics like LCT540s. Low handling noise is important for less rumbling wind noise and when it comes to LCT540, it is slightly better than NT1a.
Everything was ready for a field test in late Mars so I followed the silence into the country side. I was lucky with the weather, dry and calm, maybe too calm because it makes the silence too quiet for this field test. Anyway sometimes light gust gently wipes the top of trees and bushes which sounds fantastic in the headphones, moving slowly from left to right. It was much easier to feel the depth of the field with LCT540 than it has been with NT1a.
Nothing interesting was audible until in the early morning, about half hour before sunrise, when two Rock Ptarmigan started to „sing“. First in distance, but suddenly, maybe because of curiosity, they flied closer to the microphones and walked around the rig. The following recording is actually this moment.
It was recorded in IRT cross, which gives lot of opportunities in mixing. It gives me four different stereo recording in to four directions, all in NOS, plus many other versions too with different channel mix. It can be useful when looking into specific soundscape. It is for example possible to avoid traffic noise or other unexpected sounds from one or another direction.
The two first enclosed recording below have go through noise reduction process (above 3Khz). But the last one is a short peace without noise reduction, just as it comes from MixPre6, so you can hear the LCT540 self noise, which is about 2dB higher than in NT1a. It was recorded with 48dB gain and HPF at 40Hz. In post, I only normalize the gain level up to max, which rise the gain about +10dB. I did not change the EQ so audience can hear the sound quality at the low frequency. My feeling is that LCT540 have almost same low frequency quality as the MKH series & Nevaton which is very good
This is two versions of the same recording where I mix four channels differently into stereo. Counting channels 1-2-3-4 clockwise to L-R-Ls-Rs and the second one L-R-Rs-Ls (which is usually normal IRT setup).
This is a „high dynamic“ recording of silence, so I don´t recommend it played loud. It might destroy some speakers (ears too) if it is played too loud without attention.
Good monitor headphones are recommended or quality open headphones while listening at low to medium level.

Recording L-R-Ls-Rs
(mp3 256Kbps / 35,6Mb)

Recording L-R-Rs-Ls
(mp3 256kbps / 35,6Mb)

Short version of recording L-R-Ls-Rs without NR
(mp3 256kbps / 7,4Mb

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics. Lewitt LCT540s (IRT cross setup) Running on 70m Sommer Mercator CAT7 S/STP cable
Pix: Canon EOS M50
Weather: Calm, dry, between -2 to +4°C, about 7:30 o´clock

Location: 64°40’23.7″N 21°37’43.7″W

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Imagine, It is 3:30, mid summer morning. You are within five kilometers from the arctic circle and two and a half kilometers from the north Atlantic ocean. It is calm, and dry and the sun which has never goes completely down this night, gives a silk smooth light through thin layer of clouds. The biosphere is remarkable. It is visible everywhere. From bugs in the grass, fish in the brook to the birds in the air or in the field. All living species seems to be busy to live in beautiful harmony with Mother nature,
You are located at Skinnalónsheiði (heathland) which is close to Hraunhafnartangi peninsula, northern most part of Iceland.
Just a few weeks earlier this place was frozen under ice and snow, extremely quiet and almost a lifeless place.
The following recording is quiet, even though it’s biological busiest time of the year. Bird songs and call’s are mostly in the distance, but sometimes something catches the attention, like the wriggling fish in the brook, or different uncommon songs from different bird species.
Background noise is mostly surf from the ocean two and half kilometers away or sometimes swarm of midges.
Many bird species are in this recording. Whooper Swan, European Golden-Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Whimbrel (European), Black-tailed Godwit (islandica), Dunlin, Purple Sandpiper, Common Snipe, Common Redshank, Parasitic Jaeger, Great Black-backed Gull, Arctic Tern, Red-throated Loon, Meadow Pipit, Snow Bunting, Rock Ptarmigan and Great Northern Diver, Great Black-backed Gull, Graylag Goose, Long-tailed Duc.
Another recording was made that same night several kilometers away, nearby Hraunhafnartanga peninsula. Listening here.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at medium level.

(256mbps mp3 / 74Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40)
Pics: LG G6
Location: 66.513116, -16.149781
Weather: Calm, dry, light clouds, 11C°
Recording date: 29th of May 2018

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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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One year ago I was recording in Skaftafell national park and neighborhood in southeast of Iceland. One of my favorite recording place in this area is not exactly in the park, but on Skeiðarársandur, a huge broad sandy wasteland along Iceland’s south-eastern coast, between the Vatnajökull icecap and the sea.
One of the reason I love this place is the silence. There is almost „nothing“. Just the sand. In the horizon far away is the glacier Vatnajökull on the one side, and on the other side just the sky. The only thing that disturbs this silence is traffic or the wind. So when it is calm during the night and traffic is down it is possible to listen deep into this amazing open space. There is not much life. There is probably only Rock Ptarmigan that lives there all year around. Other species are migrants during the summertime so it is easy to say, Rock Ptarmigan is the residents of silence.
This recording is a recording of silence. Most people will not hear anything in this circumstances, probably only its own heartbeat and notice „they have“ tinnitus. But with best equipment is it possible to listen deeper into this quiet place.
You will hear some birds and insects. With good headphones you will hear the rumble sound of heavy surf on the beach 20 to 30 km far away.
BUT this recording is not completely quiet. So be careful while listening. Two birds, a male and female Rock Ptarmigan, are coming very close, „talking“ loud into your ears (2:05).
It is also worth to listen to another earlier recording from this place. „Stories from Skeiðarársandur„.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

(256kbps / 61Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40 +5° outward)
Weather: Calm, cloudy, +5°C
Location: 63.969892, -17.160072

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