Scanning for bird calls

Now you’ve got your recording loaded, real times shown and zoomed to show a few seconds on screen (see here) you can start to scroll through looking for calls. You can click the scroll bar or press the page up/down keys to scroll whole pages (i.e. whatever is shown on screen) at a time. The danger is any short calls near or spanning the edge of the screen may be missed. A safer (slightly slower) method is to use the < and > keys. Assuming you’ve configured them (see here) to jump e.g. 25 seconds with 30 seconds on screen each screen view shows a few seconds of the last screen view, so limiting the change of missing short calls. In the example below, paging through missed a Redwing call but using the > key meant it was more visible.




audacity_gain_controlWhen you find something of interest, use the mouse to select the section then press play (or hit space bar) to listen. Depending on your recording gear the sound could be quiet, even on full volume with headphones. To the left of the spectrogram are two useful sliders. The top one allows you to reduce or increase the gain – essentially to make the recording quieter or louder. This can be useful but beware it will make everything louder, including any low frequency background noise. If you have a stereo recording the L/R slider allows you to boost/fade the left and right channels. If the call is mostly on one side, or you have some annoying background noise to the other, this may be useful to lift the call.

Exporting clips

To save a clip for later, use the mouse to select the part of the recording then use the menu option File>Export>Export selected audio. The default is to export in wav format. If you wish to export and upload to xeno-canto (useful for sharing unusual or unidentified recordings, especially if using Trektellen) you will need to export in MP3 format. If it didn’t come pre-installed you may need to add a free plug-in from the Audacity website but you only need to do this once.

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