Further experimentation with the field recording yesterday. Given I wake up early at this time of year I have been planning to try to get better recordings of the dawn chorus. With sunrise occurring around 5 am, the birds start singing at around 3:45. So, up at 3-ish, a snack and a coffee, and then the almighty trek round the corner to the churchyard.

All was silent bird-wise, which was what I had planned for. But literally as I set up the tripod, a robin started to sing. Quickly checking the levels I hit record and took a seat inside the church porch.

We are located a kilometre or so south of the A303 and as a consequence traffic noise, while not intrusive, is always there in the background. If the wind is coming from the northern half of the compass it is generally more noticeable. From the southern half it recedes considerably, so by positioning the recorder on the south side of the church, this has a further diminishing effect on traffic noise.

I knew the wind direction was due to be WNW, and although at that time in the morning it was the lightest of breezes, what traffic there was could be heard fairly clearly.

The recording I made is ok. I think I can clean it up a little. But it was a good learning process.

Wot I learned;

  • arrive in plenty of time so that set up can be done properly and you are ready to record with time to spare.
  • arriving early allows you to find the ideal location to record from. Had I moved the recorder even just a meter I could have further reduced the level of traffic noise.
  • be aware of the length of your headphones cable! In the near dark I didn’t realise that I had sat far enough from the recorder that the cable was not quite resting on the ground. Any movement of my head meant the cable would swing and and bump and the noise would travel along said cable right to the mic.
  • using headphones to monitor your recording greatly enhances your ability to ‘see’ the soundscape in an objective way, as the mic does. Shopping list: better headphones. There are always better ones….

I will post a link to the recording once I’ve edited it. As a side note, while I was recording a bat came in and out of the porch several times. I could only see its silhouette against the sky outside but I could hear its wings beat as it flew around above me.


Stephen James

Minding the gaps


© Stephen James 2021

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