Robin flock in light rain (recording doubled in length for a longer listening experience). 3pm, 30 October 2016. Recorded in our backyard, near Ithaca, New York. © Lang Elliott.
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Sometimes, a compelling soundscape will present itself when least expected. Yesterday afternoon, during a light rain, I took a brief walk around our pond. To my delight, a flock of American Robins had settled into the patch of woods next to the pond and individuals were calling excitedly as they flew from perch to perch. “What a nice sound,” I remember thinking, but “too bad I left my soundscape microphone in my studio downtown.”
The more I listened, the more I wanted to document the soundscape, but I knew it was time limited … certainly the robins would be gone if I drove all the way downtown for my gear. Then I remembered my little Zoom recorder, which I’d brought home for another project. So I sprinted back home, retrieved it, and then ran back to the pond. Fortunately, the robins were still there and I got a nice-sounding 3-minute recording before a loud jet rumbled overhead. Disappointingly, though, the flock dispersed before I had a chance to continue recording.
I’m happy with this catch. Though brief and made with an inexpensive recorder, it faithfully conveys what I experienced … the gentle pitter-patter of the rain on the leaves enlivened by the varied calls of the robins. I can’t help but wonder what the birds were feeling as they gathered in excited anticipation of their autumnal migration (or maybe they were already on the move?).
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Fond of Robins. Although I must admit that one reason is simply because of my being able to identify their voices
Thanks so much for the beautiful sounds of nature. The peace of the birds songs heavenly.
This is so familiar and so peaceful.I love Robins so much, and Robins with light rain accompaniment is a sound I cherish. Thanks for sharing this, Lang.
Glad to hear you like it Lisa!
Wonderful! I love to listen to Robins. Here in Fresno I love when the White-crowned Sparrows come through from October through some time in the spring when the Mockingbirds take over the territory. Other songs in the neighborhood are fleeting. So it is a treat to check in with you and listen in! Thank you!
Nanne: Do the White-crowneds sing through the winter months?
Yes, but after I posted I’m not absolutely sure they are white crowned. I’ve seen the white stripe, they come every year, their song is consistent and beautiful, a combo of the song sparrow and a thrush. So I will check if there are other kinds of sparrows here. The short videos I watched sounded different but were labeled white crown. I don’t think they have any yellow on thr head like the ones in the videos.
I’ll bet they are white-crowned, simply because that is such a common species out your way.
Further checking with Cornell’s lab the picture is correct, no yellow on head and song is very similar. I suppose there can be variation in the song? And yes, I hear them, morning and evening clear until spring when it starts to get hot.
thanks Lang, A wellcome, grounding reminder in this time of anxiety.
Let the robins sing and soar while we humbly attend.
Let the robin’s sing and soar!
I can never make up my mind which bird song I enjoy more…the robin or the oriole….or the cardinal…
Oh, I could go on and on…
They are all beautiful!
I enjoy whatever I’m listening to, be it a robin, cardinal, oriole, or some obscure seldom-heard species. That said, I do have my “favorites,” such as the Winter Wren and Hermit Thrush. Like you, I could go on and on … and on … and on …
The sound in Autun
Yes. Of course one might hear nearly the same thing in late winter during northward migration, although there would undoubtedly be more “song” mixed-in with the calls.
This is wonderful ~ thanks for the beautiful, relaxing treat!
Thank you Jeanie!
Really peaceful…lovely, Lang!
: >) I feel so very fortunate to have gotten it, and also fortunate to be able to share it.
Lovely relaxing sounds…
This soundscape is relaxing … rather surprising considering the degree of excitement in the birds. I think what’s important here, listening-wise, is that none of the robins are real close, so their sounds don’t “pierce” the ear. Instead, the robin voices blend nicely with the rain drops … the two sound elements actually complement and support one another.
“Like the sunshine, some things just have to happen and all you can do is watch & listen”.
-Felipe Sesoko We must all be conscious of our treasures, Once again, thank you Lang 🙂
Rose Ann: One problem with recording professionally is that my desire to “capture” an event can interfere with my own appreciation. Rather than just continuing to breath-it-in and derive the full benefits, I’m off and running for my gear. Overall, though, I think it’s a good thing because it allows me to share experiences with others, through the medium of sound. On the positive side, the desire to record often propels me into wonderful soundscapes. Carrying a mic gives me a good excuse to go wandering about in the marshes and swamps at night …
The sound of nature has no match and reminds me of how much blather we get each day from tv, etc. so it’s important to find a spot and remember that we should not only embrace nature but remember that we are part of nature. Cheers Duke
Thank you, Lang. Thank you so much. To me the soothing quality of light rain is unique, and it’s just what I need right now. Glad you had the recording equipment rather easily at hand. That little unit does a good job!
I’m surprised at how good the Zoom H5 sounds, though I know from testing that my professional setup yields far more “spacious” soundscapes when listened-to using headphones or earbuds.
Nice! I, too, now carry a high-end handheld with integrated microphones (A B configured) almost all the time, even to work, leaving my bulky workshop-made Crown SASS-P copy and tripod, double xlr cabled to a heavy doorstop of a recorder, at home, traveling fast and light. The hand held is a bit noisier and does not create quite the spacious, dimensional quasi-binaural sound that is so immersive, but I am surprised how good it is. I certainly do a lot more recording with it because it is almost always within reach. This blog is a lot of fun to listen… Read more »
Beautiful. Thank you. Such a good reminder for me to stop, listen and breath.
Agreed … and I also need reminders to do just that. In fact, I took my walk because I was growing tired of looking at my computer screen, and wanted a “breather”. My big lesson, though, is to ALWAYS have my soundscape mic nearby, just in case I stumble across something good, like this noisy flock of robins. My little Zoom recorder saved the day, but that was sheer luck, not due to forethought on my part.
This is wonderful. How did you keep the handheld recorder from getting wet or not recording the sound raindrops on your umbrella? Yes, very soothing. Keep up the good work.
I put it under an evergreen that sheltered the mics. Then, in post, I went through and “healed” all the really loud splats where raindrops landed too close. I have a special “wind and rain box” for my pro setup, but it was also downtown in my studio. That was actually my good fortune; had it been in my car, I would have wasted too much time setting it up, and probably would have gotten nothing.
Interesting. Thank you. So nice how it all worked out so well.