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Friday, 6 March 2015

A cascade of musical notes from high in the sky

Whatever my mood, hearing a Skylark (Alauda arvensis) singing somewhere overhead never fails to lift me up and bring a smile to my face.
I always have to look for him. Usually, he's way up high or far away but, occasionally, the song will be louder and I'll find him closer. Then I can see his wings whirring and his beak wide open shouting his fitness to the world.

I've long wanted to record the sound of a singing Skylark so, with Spring in the air at Rainham Marshes yesterday, I decided to give it a try.
The Southern Trail is the best place to find them. I settled on one of the benches between the Purfleet Hide and the Marshland Discovery Zone and waited for a Skylark to take to the air.

This one came closest. He circled over my head (I guess at about 50m up) and then gently drifted out over the marsh, eventually to land out of sight.
I did my best to follow him with my microphone. It's a parabolic reflector, so it has great sound-gathering power, but it's very directional. Any sudden changes in volume in the recording are caused by me not quite getting the mic pointed exactly at him.

There are plenty of non-Skylark and non-bird sounds! There's no way to avoid this at Rainham, surrounded by industry, road and rail. The background rumble, the motorbike and the people calling their dog are just "atmosphere"!
...and be warned and prepared for another bird song at 1 minute and 45 seconds. It's loud and it's a... Cetti's!

The resulting recording is a good start, but I definitely can do better. Maybe next time.
I don't have a good image of a flying Skylark, so here's one perched
on a fence at Rainham Marshes in 2011!