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Posts Tagged ‘Sennheiser MKH20’

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Natural silence is my favorite recording material, mainly because now a days it is so difficult to find it and it gets more difficult every year. I have been interested for salience in many years, or since I discovered it in my cycling trip all over Icelandic’s highlands about three decades ago. It was before the tourist boom and before Icelanders started to travel in their own country. So I was sometimes alone for many days in the desert. This moments in deep silence have inspired me so much it has shaped my life for lifetime.
One of this quiet places in Iceland was north of Vatnajökull glacier.
Shortly after the millennium, the traffic in this area increased a lot, especially because the Icelandic government had planed to build the biggest dam in Europe (Kárahnjúkastífla dam)  to make electricity for one ALCOA aluminum smelter in Reyðarfjörður, east of Iceland.
All that project ended as a huge natural disaster, which also split the people´s community in Iceland into two groups with and against this project. More information about this disaster can be found on Saving Iceland´s website.
Last time I visited this area was early summer 2018, I spent a night in Vesturöræfi on a place named Kofaalda.
I remembered my first thought when I sat up the recording gear. I was going to waste gigabytes for nothing because I heard nothing. Totally nothing. Well, there were some birds in distance …and yes, on the left side, behind hill about 2 km away there was the river Sauðá and on the right side a waterfall in Kringislá river about 4-5 km away.
I started recording.
It was not until last summer when I got opportunity to make a noise reduction on this recording, I noticed, after about 90dB gain this silence was rich of sound.
Most of this night I was struggling with rumble by gust. But between 5 and 6 o´clock the wind went down and something unexpected happened above end near the microphone.
Several bird species are in this recording: Dunlin, Golden plover, Pink-footed goose, Purple sandpiper, Common ringed plover, Snow bunting and Arctic skua.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.
If you have a problem to play recordings in this blog try to open each blog-post in new frame or tab

( mp3 256kbps / 48Mb )

Recorder. MixPre6
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20  (AB40 setup laying on the ground)
Pix. Canon EOS-M50. See pictures of the landscape which was drowned by the bloody Kárahnjúkar dam project. „Lost landscape“ Part 1 & Part 2  and more pictures „Cycling trip to east fjords 2006“ Part 1 & Part 2
Location: 64.833417, -15.848694
Weather: Light gust, Calm, cloudy about 3°C

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Storm petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus) is a seabird in the northern storm petrel family, Hydrobatidae. It is the only member of the genus Hydrobates. The small, square-tailed bird is entirely black except for a broad, white rump and a white band on the under wings, and it has a fluttering, bat-like flight. The large majority of the population breeds on islands off the coasts of Europe, with the greatest numbers in the Faroe Islands, United Kingdom, Ireland, and Iceland. The Mediterranean population is a separate subspecies, but is inseparable at sea from its Atlantic relatives; its strongholds are Filfla Island (Malta), Sicily, and the Balearic Islands.
The storm petrel nests in crevices and burrows, sometimes shared with other seabirds or rabbits, and lays a single white egg, usually on bare soil. The adults share the lengthy incubation and both feed the chick, which is not normally brooded after the first week. This bird is strongly migratory, spending the Northern Hemisphere winter mainly off the coasts of South Africa and Namibia, with some birds stopping in the seas adjoining West Africa, and a few remaining near their Mediterranean breeding islands. This petrel is strictly oceanic outside the breeding season. It feeds on small fish, squid, and zooplankton, while pattering on the sea’s surface, and can find oily edible items by smell. The food is converted in the bird’s stomach to an oily orange liquid, which is regurgitated when the chick is fed. Although usually silent at sea, the storm petrel has a chattering call given by both members of a pair in their courtship flight, and the male has a purring song given from the breeding chamber.
The Storm petrel cannot survive on islands where land mammals such as rats and cats have been introduced, and it suffers natural predation from gulls, skuas, owls, and falcons. Although the population may be declining slightly, this petrel is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as being of least concern due to its high total numbers. Its presence in rough weather at sea has led to various mariners’ superstitions, and by analogy, to its use as a symbol by revolutionary and anarchist groups.
See more information at Wikipedia, eBird and Fuglavefurinn.
Largest colony of Storm Petrel in Iceland can be found in Elliðaey Island, near Vestmannaeyjar island, south of Iceland, but they can also be found in small numbers in two other places in south and east Iceland.
When I and Bob McGuire and Marino Sigursteinsson arrived in Elliðaey the 5th of June 2018, we were not sure if the Storm Petrel had arrived. It was almost too early for their breeding season.
So it was a big success when suddenly at midnight the air was filled with flying Storm petrels. I never saw this tiny bird, even though they were all around my head. They flew extremely fast like bats and disappeared in holes in the ground, and in the load wall of the old shelter.
I started recording inside the shelter because it was like hundreds of birds were heavily busy in conversation inside the wall, but outside and behind the shelter was a low lava cliff, named Skápar also with interesting soundscape. So I started to recording with other recorder there too.
Sadly I spent to much time talking in too short distance behind the rig, so most of the recording is spoiled with human talking. It is sad because this fabulous Storm petrel soundscape did not last more than two or three hours before they all flew to the sea again.
The following recording is what is left of the recording without the human chat. So the best part of Storm Petrel is sadly missing. Instead other bird, very similar is common in this recording. It is Leach’s Storm Petrel which is audible throughout all the recording. More info in Wikipedia, eBird and Fuglavefurinn
Background noise is a rumble noise from a trawler. It was almost constant noise all the time we stayed on the island. Even though I did not see any ship around the island, the air was vibrating with this deep rumble engine noise.
It seems like I need to spent much more time in this remote island and record its biological soundscape. It change over the day, every months, spring, summer, autumn and winter. So just 24 hours is not enough. Same as with other nearby islands, which host different bird species and different soundscape.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at medium level.

( mp3 256kbps / 27,6Mb )

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 AB40
Pix. LG G6
Location:  63.466924, -20.175122
Weather: Calm, misty & light shower, ca 12°C
Listen to the recording Elliðaey part1

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It is rear now a days to discover new places without traffic or engine nose. I found one in June 2019. It was at Fellströnd, in the northwest of Iceland. That means I have natural silence for more than a one hour. It is a south part of a peninsula which only have gravel roads and no shopping service so motorist are normally not driving there for pleasure.
Less human traffic means more biodiversity. It thrives better in places with less farming and fast driving cars. One roadkill can as well mean a death of the whole family. Car covered with smashed bugs means less food for birds… and so on. This is clearly visible and audible in those areas which have „industry“ farming and lots of fast driving traffic.
No traffic, or engine noise, means more natural silence and more transparent soundscape. Therefor it is very interesting to listen to this recordings. It is even possible to hear sheep footsteps far away and detect what bird species are in the area, even far away. In fact it is possible to analyze the situation of the biodiversity.
This is a high gain recording, recorded at +50dB. Gain was then increased in post about +25dB, normalized at -8dB and gently NR.
This is a part of 10 hour recording. This part was recorded between 7 and 8 in the morning at 21st of June.
Many bird species are audible in this recording. Black tailed Godwit, Common Redsank, Whimprel, Red necked Phalarope, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Common Ringed Plover, European Golden Plover, Dunlin, Raven, Redwing, Purple Sandpiper, Meadow Pipit, Geylag Goose, Whooper Swan, Red Throated Diver and Common Eider. I am almost sure I have not counted them all.
You can hear sheep footsteps which was though far away, also birds wing flaps as a low rumble noise.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low or medium level.

(Mp3 256Kbps / 48Mb)

Recorder: Sonosax SX-R4+
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40)
Pix: Canon EOS M50
Location: 65.169836, -22.404601
Weather: Calm, cloudy ca 13°C

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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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Ásbyrgi has a fantastic soundscape. It is one of the wonders of nature, a forested horse-shoe shaped canyon in Oxarfjordur. Asbyrgi is a part of Jökulsárgljúfur, within the Vatnajökull National Park.
I was there recording over night for ten hours 1st. of June 2018 . I don´t know if it was the time of the year, or something else, but the cliffs were very quiet this night. Usually I have been there later in June and July and the Fulmar in the cliffs have been noisier.
It was around 8 o´clock in the morning, just before the tourist traffic arrived that the soundscape in the canyon changed. It was like the whole biosphere woke up with lots of birds and insects activity. The following recording is the last 30 minutes that day before the soundscape was ruined by traffic noise and yelling tourists. Several bird species are in this recording. Northern Fulmar, Common Snipe, Eurasia Woodcock, Whimbrel, Red-Necked Phalarope, European golden Plover,  Pink footed Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Teal, Redwing, Common Redpoll, and Snow Bunting.
Here you can also listen to older posts from Ásbyrgi: Fairy in Ásbyrgi and Botnstjörn pond in Ásbyrgi.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at medium level.

  (mp3 256kbps/62,3Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40 setup)
Pix: LG G6
Location: 65°59’56.6″N 16°30’44.9″W
Weather: Clear sky, light gust, 5°C

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Kirkjubæjarklaustur (Klaustur) is a village in the south of Iceland on the hringvegur (road no. 1 or Ring Road) between Vík í Mýrdal and Höfn. It is part of the municipality of Skaftárhreppur and has about 500 inhabitants.
Even before the time of the first Norse settlement in Iceland, Irish monks are thought to have lived here. Since 1186, a well known convent of Benedictine nuns, Kirkjubæjar Abbey, was located in Kirkjubæjarklaustur, until the Reformation in 1550. The names of the waterfall Systrafoss („waterfall of the sisters“) and of the lake Systravatn („water of the sisters“) on the highland above the village refer to this abbey. Folk tales illustrate the history with stories about good and sinful nuns. The Systrastapi (sister’s rock) is where two of the convent’s nuns were buried after being burned at the stake. One of the nuns was accused of selling her soul to the Devil, carrying Communion bread outside the church, and having carnal knowledge with men; the other was charged with speaking blasphemously of the Pope. After the Reformation, the second sister was vindicated, and flowers are said to bloom on her grave, but not that of the first nun. Systravatn also has a legend relating to the convent. The nuns traditionally bathed in the lake, and one day two nuns saw a hand with a gold ring extending from the water. When they tried to seize the ring, they were dragged below the water and drowned.
The village became well known in Iceland during the Lakagígar volcano eruptions in 1783. The pastor of the local church and dean of Vestur-Skaftafellssýsla, Jón Steingrímsson (is) (1728 – 1791), delivered what became known as the „Fire Sermon“ (eldmessu) on July 20, 1783. The legend says that this sermon stopped the lava flow, and the village was spared at the last moment. The current church, constructed in 1974, was built in memory of the Reverend Jón Steingrímsson.
Today, the village is an important service center for the farms in the region as well as for tourists and weekend visitors. (Wikipedia)
During summer time many bird species are nesting close to the village and the river Skaftá which flows beside the village. Arctic Terns have a big colony almost in the middle of the village, so many other migrant birds are nesting there too.
The recording was captured early morning 7th of June 2016 and is a part of 7 hours long recording
Many bird species are in this recording, Arctic tern, Red wing, Common Snipe, Whimbrel, Common Redshank, Red-necked Phalarope and probably many other species. What I love most in this recording is in the middle of the recording, is a „special song“ of Eurasian Wigeon which is not a common bird in my recordings.
Quality headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level. Be careful, sometimes the level goes high when birds fly by.

(mp3, 265kbps / 59Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20
Pic: Canon EOS-M

Location: 63.787049, -18.050793
Weather: Cloudy, Calm, around 7 °C

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I spend almost 4 days late June 2017 recording in Þjórsárver area, which is a tundra southeast of Hofsjökull glacier. It was shortly after the road administrator open the Sprengisandur route across the highland, so there was still not much traffic. It was very early this summer so it was possible for me to record birds activity in nests.
When I arrived at Eyvindakofaver I saw an Arctic fox sneaking around a stone cairns and an angry Snow Bunting flying around. It was a clear message for something interesting to record.
The weather was boring for recording. It was cloudy, the temperature about 4°C and the wind was SW, 5-10 m/sec. But the stone cairn was a suitable cover for the microphones. So I put up my gear and started recording just before midnight and then went to sleep.
At 3:40 the wind suddenly went down for about 30 minutes which was the only minutes with calm weather this four days in the area. Calm weather means normally better detail recording for the birds’ activity and deeper listening to far distance sounds.
Usually Snow Bunting lay eggs two times during the summer so this was likely the previous nesting time.
It is necessary to listen to the whole recording but suddenly something happens in the nest which we humans can guess was probably a brutal rape or other domestic violence.
If you think this was something else, feel free and leave a comment below.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening in silence at low level, or in speakers at low level.

(256 kbps / 59,4Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 NOS
Pics: Canon EOS-M
Weather. Cloudy, around +3°C, SW, 2m/s
Location: 64.613944, -18.575462

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