NOCMIG – A New Nocturnal Experience

So here it is! (Moorhen, above) My first attempt at nocturnal sound recording, using the Audacity and TinyTake Apps . I don’t mind admitting it was a steep learning curve getting used to the Apps, but very rewarding.

I decided on the Tascam DR-05x as my weapon of choice and couldn’t be happier with it. It cost £80 new on Amazon but there are some second hand ones out there. It is extremely easy to use. Press the power button, press the record button twice and we are in business. I currently have a simple set up in the garden. The DR-05x just stands upright in a bucket! However, I do have a small flexible tripod that I am trailing tonight, attached to the bucket side with the mic facing into the bucket. I will let you know if that makes a difference. I think I will try and make some sort of ‘dish’ and suspension system for the mic ready for the Autumn, but this set up will do for now.

I also purchased a couple of wind deflectors, £6 from Amazon, not the furry ‘dead animal’ ones but the ‘afro’ looking ones similar to the image below. So far so good, I don’t know if the fur ones are any better, but they were more expensive!!

The time consuming part is searching for those nocturnal calls and as a rank beginner it isn’t easy. Once you have Audacity set up you certainly need a bit of time to get used to it. In order to give yourself a chance I would suggest taking your recorder out in the field and aiming it at some birds you know, just to practice downloading them onto Audacity and using the programme to cut put the bits you don’t need and save the bits you do. It also gives you the opportunity to see how songs ‘look’ on a spectrogram. I owe a debt of gratitude to the guys at Nocmig.com and to Joe Stockwell on Youtube for assisting me with pretty much everything and I can thoroughly advise checking both out before you start your Nocmig adventure!

There are four ‘episodes’ from Joe, showing how to use the set up and everything else you need to know.

I’m not going to go into the realms of using Audacity on here. Please use Joe’s videos or the Nocmig.com website for that insight, but I’m happy to answer any simple questions if I can. As previously mentioned, the time consuming part is going through the recordings. You obviously don’t have to sit and listen to 7 or 8 hours of noise! Audacity allows you to watch the spectrogram and look out for any calls. Then plug your earphones in and hopefully you can ID them! My first attempt managed to capture our local Sedge Warbler that sang continuously throughout the night to the point where it was becoming tedious! However, the recording from 11th May included Tawny Owl, Rook, Mallard, Whimbrel, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon (didn’t know they called at night!) and towards dawn, Skylark, Robin and……….Sedge Warbler!

So, I got my recordings and separated the good bits. Next to download the TinyTake app which allows you to show your spectrograms to the world. This took a bit of doing to be honest and I’m still playing around with it. I manged to upload the Grasshopper Warbler one below but can’t for the life in me remember how I did it! Lol

*UPDATE* – All sorted now. If using TinyTake, you just need to save the file to ‘Save Locally’!!

Whilst it seems a lot of time and effort, ‘nocmigging’ is definitely worth a try. It has opened up a whole new ornithological venture during this current lockdown!

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