‘Nocmig’ (or Night Flight Call / NFC recording as it’s known in North America) is the nocturnal equivalent of visible migration watching, and typically employs sound recording equipment to capture the flight calls of migrating birds. Whether you’re interested in new birds for your garden list or keen to record migration more systematically, knowing where to start can seem baffling. Here we aim to collate information and tips about the developing – and captivating! – world of nocmig.
With a modest investment in some recording equipment (as little as £15) and some free software to process recordings, you can start to identify birds migrating over your location each night. You’ll be amazed at the range of species you’ve been missing – you may have heard Redwings on calm autumn evenings but you should be able to add Blackbird, Song Thrush, Fieldfare and perhaps Ring Ouzel, waterbirds such as Coot, Moorhen and Water Rail, and passage waders like Whimbrel and Golden Plover. If you’re really lucky there are rarities like Bittern, Common Scoter and Ortolan Bunting for the finding. If you need more motivation, read more here.
Based on recommendations from current recordists, we’ve summarised the different equipment options available and offer tips for how, where and when to record. We provide step-by-step instructions for using free audio software to process your night-long recordings to find bird vocalisations of interest. And if you’re lucky enough to record a bird you don’t recognise, we maintain links to the latest identification information.
Contributors and acknowledgments
These pages are written and maintained by Simon Gillings and Nick Moran. On our own nocmig journeys we learnt a lot from experimentation and informed by tips from seasoned ‘nocmiggers’. In particular, we thank Joost van Bruggen, Patrick Franke, Nick Hopper, Mark Lewis, James Lidster, Tim Jones, Paul Morton and Magnus Robb.