As a modern day wildlife sound recordist, in some ways we have it easier now than ever, with portable devices capable of capturing quality soundbites and microphones that are as accurate as they could be, even at consumer prices. Nature recording in the modern age does however present itself with modern challenges, in a world increasing in sound pollution, the sounds of man, industry, planes, are almost unescapable, even in remote locations. It might look and feel like a remote location, but the minute you stick the headphones on, you’re faced with overhead planes, rumbling boats, traffic echoing up the valleys. We all underestimate the importance of true silence and for me, I seek these locations out for the sake of my own mental health.
My love for birdsong has grown from a musical background, having studied creative sound at university and played as a professional musician from a young age, this has helped me understand birdsong on a much deeper level, helping me ID birds like they were tracks on your favourite album. This understanding of bird song however has sent me down a path to understand more, leading me to notice that a lot of birds actually learn their song in a similar way to us. Many species have even taken to improvisation, mimicking and deceptive styles of song which I aim to study in my life time in the hope to learn more.
There’s a vast amount of knowledge out there to obtain, and the world of natural sound, for the most part, is unexplored territory, so it’s quite exciting to be on this journey and it gives me a huge sense of purpose.
This year 2019 I discovered something that has been previously documented, but remains largely un-recorded, and that’s the mimicking habits of the Firecrest. Mimicking for some species, like a Starling or a Sedge Warbler, is embedded into the very fabric of their song, thus, is widely recognised, but for other species it can be so subtle that we don’t even notice. Being such a similar species to Goldcrest, I think that Firecrests mimic of the Goldcrest has been overlooked, especially considering that their song is so high-pitched, a lot of people can no longer hear it. So far this season, I’ve obtained license cover to allow me to spend more time with this species and already, 3 out of 3 singing males have all been able to produce a goldcrest mimic. All 3 birds however have done so at different standards. I aim to explain all this at the end of the season in a full report.