Friday 9 April 2021

Some Nocmig Quality

Managed two outings to Cogden today, early and late, both a bit rushed. I think it's been three days without a Wheatear, so what a relief to see three this morning!

The first one...

...which quickly joined another. All beach concrete should be decorated like this.

The third one. Already we're getting some very different-looking birds to those a few weeks ago. A bit rusty on the mantle and russet-tinged below.

There had evidently been an arrival of Willow Warblers. I heard a couple singing briefly, and saw six or more; this evening another six, though none singing. Getting photos was tricky this morning, and the only phyllosc which succumbed was a singing Chiffchaff...

When we attempt to vocalise the 'chiff' and 'chaff' sounds which come out of these little beasties we barely part our lips. Look what a Chiffchaff has to do!

Thankfully a Willow Warbler was a tiny bit more cooperative this evening...

Willow Warbler and flowering Blackthorn. For me this combo is synonymous with early April.

Nicely showing off the longer primary projection of Willow Warbler. On Chiffchaff it's probably not much more than half that.

Despite keeping an eye out for them, I have so far failed to see a local Peregrine this year. So it was great to have one dash past this evening. Quite a small bird, so presumably a male, I absolutely nailed the photo...

Peregrine, showing well.

Couldn't resist some non-birdy photos today...

Spot the hare.

To get the most from them, Cowslips are really a hands-and-knees job.

This way to relative solitude, great scenery, and a bird or two.

Or maybe this way...

So, a couple of nice walks, a few birds, but nothing unexpected. And arguably it was rather quiet for the time of year. However, there is always nocmig...

I forgot to switch on the recorder's mains supply last night, so only got what the batteries gave me, which wasn't a lot. With the new microphone on 'phantom power' mode - which drains the batteries even quicker - the recorder died at 00:58. Thankfully my best bird so far this year chose to fly over calling at 00:33. It wasn't loud, but perfectly visible on the sonogram, and when I played it my first thought was 'Excellent. A Fieldfare.' I played it again...and again. Hmmm. Not Fieldfare, I think. Sure enough, a bit of investigation confirmed my suspicions. It was a Ring Ouzel! I've had one previously (October 17th/18th 2020) - it was my best bird last autumn - but I can't help feeling that a spring Ring Ouzel is even better. Here it is...

Ring Ouzel. At the scale I have displayed on the screen when reviewing a night's nocmig recording, these four notes look much nearer to vertical lines. Just over half a second for the whole call. There is plenty of potential to overlook stuff like that!

And this is what it sounds like. Somewhat amplified from the original...

By the time I got to the Ring Ouzel I was already buzzing for a different reason: Common Scoter. Last spring I had a single occurence, and this spring also so far, but both were fairly brief and unspectacular. So I was chuffed to discover a whole minute's worth of Common Scoter on last night's recording. Not loud, but prolonged enough to note the subtle Doppler effect as the birds flew towards, then away from the mic. Here's about 18 seconds' worth of the louder bits, though unfortunately there's a fair bit of background noise too...

So there you go. Not a bad 24 hours of birdy stuff. I genuinely look forward to reviewing a nocmig recording, and the fact that I do not hear the birds 'live' makes absolutely no difference to the pleasure I get from it, nor to the intensity of exhilaration on discovering I've bagged a good 'un. Weird, isn't it?


  1. My morning fix of photo's and recordings has been well and truly delivered. Thank you.

    1. Excellent. It's been fun putting the menu together. 😊

  2. Gav, the sound of those Scoters makes me think it was really a flock of those that went over my house in the early hours one time. It certainly sounds familiar. Imagine a dozen or so.

    1. It's a very distinctive sound Ric. I've listened to loads of recordings of them now, but even when it was new to me (last year) I was struck by how striking it is. Chances of getting some over your place is pretty high - they migrate over land all the time, in big numbers.