Nocmig recording in Cambridge

I started nocmig recording in March 2017 from my garden in Chesterton, one of the eastern suburbs of Cambridge. My garden is about 250 m from the River Cam but separated by a moderately noisy road and housing. In a birding sense it’s an uninspiring bit of the city and not somewhere you’d expect to have significant bird passage.

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My first recording gear was a very cheap USB microphone, the kind designed for Skype calls. For under £15 this gave me my first Moorhen and Water Rail for my nocmig garden list. In a bid to improve the quality of my recordings I upgraded to a Yeti USB mic but stubbornly stuck to using my computer to capture the audio. Spring 2017 was amazing for inland wader passage and I soon added Spotted Redshank and Grey Plover to a growing list of waders.

20170903 OBEarly September 2017 was a turning point – I was away with my family for the weekend and had taken the Yeti mic with me but on a whim decided to leave the mini USB running from Friday evening to Sunday. On my return I discovered that I had recorded not only a Sandwich Tern and a Tree Pipit but also an apparent plik call of an Ortolan Bunting – a potential first for Cambridgeshire. With hindsight, claiming an unseen county first based on a single call, when I was not even present, was asking for trouble. But it made me rethink my recording setup and invest in a proper microphone so that I’d be better prepared next time…

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Since October 2017 I’ve been using a Dodotronic Stereo parabolic microphone connected via a 10 m cable to a Zoom H4n Pro recorder. I recorded in Chesterton whenever I can and have so far recorded over 10,000 nocturnal flight calls of over 60 species, including highlights such as multiple Ring OuzelsCommon Scoter, Stone-curlew, Pied Flycatcher and Bittern.  I’ve just started putting these records onto Trektellen to add to the picture it is building of nocturnal migration in Europe.

This website came about when Nick Moran and I found we wanted to collate the answers to many of the questions we had as we were starting out. We’re keen to promote nocmig recording and especially interested to see useful counts generated and submitted to Trektellen for wider research uses.

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