Philip Goddard
www.broad-horizon-nature.co.uk
Broad Horizon Nature
 
 
 
 

Broad Horizon Natural Soundscapes
-- Part 2 (premium recordings - PCM-D100)


See also Part 1 (PCM-M10 recordings)


image Natural Soundscapes and Related Recordings
CDs from e-store, with preview excerpts


Just finishing recording a wonderful grandstand panorama of a dawn chorus in
Branscombe Landslip, near Beer, Devon, UK, using a PCM-D100 recorder


Preliminary Notes

This part of the chronological listing of my recordings starts in April 2016, when at last I switched from the Sony PCM-M10 recorder to the more professional-oriented Sony PCM-D100. The stereo image produced by the D100 is dramatically more focused and lifelike than that of the M10 recordings, notwithstanding the excellent quality of the latter in so many respects. For this reason I am intending over time to replace some of the M10 recordings with D100 ones - though I have no plans for an across-the-board replacement.

Please see the detailed Preliminary Notes in Part 1 of Broad Horizon Natural Soundscapes.

Just to be as objective as possible about the superiority of the D100 soundstage, just have a look at the polar diagram for the recorder's microphones in the 120° 'wide stereo' configuration. As I couldn't find online a polar diagram for the stereo pair, I have constructed a crude one here by superimposing two copies of the diagram for a single microphone, rotated outwards by 60° in opposite directions. Sorry that it was only a low-resolution graphic to start with, so I could not make it clearer than this.

 

What this shows is how wide is the panorama that can be captured with the D100, and also how strongly directional each microphone is. Take the clear red line as being the really important one, for, as a crude approximation, that represents effectively the sensitivity to the most audible mid-range sound. The sensitivity scale increases outwards from zero at the centre. You can see that the nominal 120° between the microphones is simply the angle of the mic axes to each other, NOT the angle of the soundstage that the pair of them captures. Indeed, actually in this configuration the recorder can hear sounds quite well from all around! Each mic is quite strongly directional individually, and is relatively deaf to sound coming from behind, but that is well covered by the mic on the other side, and that helps make for a really good stereo separation (i.e., clarity, focus and detail in the played-back recording). A good working estimate of the really useful soundstage width, therefore, is probably more like 240°, and the overall 'deaf' region directly behind the recorder is actually not all that deaf at all!

Actually, in a fairly narrow horizontal band behind the recorder there would be a much more 'deaf' area than indicated in the diagram, because the latter doesn't take account of the physical body of the recorder itself, which would of course shield the mics from sounds 'round the back'. Nonetheless, the width of panorama that it does capture really noticeably even in that narrow horizontal plane is impressively wider than 120° or even 180°.

Note also, for a single microphone, the big difference in sensitivity between its front and its rear (as distinct from front and rear of the overall stereo pair). That makes for strong separation and very clear, sharply-focused details in the soundstage.

Chronological List of recordings

(most recent dates first, but listings within a date are in normal, ascending order)


Colour codes

image Devon Sea and Cliffs
Cornwall Sea and Cliffs
Dartmoor area
image Sleep-assist*
Weather
image Wind Chimes in the Wild
* N.B. Many of the listed recordings would work well as healthy get-to-sleep aids for most people. The recordings flagged as 'sleep-assist' are special purpose ones, which are best NOT normally used by people who can get to sleep using other recordings listed here. These special-purpose recordings readily cause drowsiness, and thus can be harmful / dangerous if listened to while driving or operating machinery.

 

20/21 Jun 2017
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Beeny Cliff, near Boscastle, Cornwall - main alcove and southernmost cave, overnight through to dawn period
This was an attempt to repeat the previous week's recordings from here, hopefully with less or no wind disturbance - but again the wind thwarted my full intentions, but at least the hot weather, smaller swell and lack of moonlight helped make for some different things captured this time. However, like the previous time, I had cause to summarily delete one recording and large parts of others because of the wind, which got up to force 7 Bft at the south end of Beeny Cliff for a while during the night - so the final results listed here are salvage operations that do not fully represent what I actually heard there.
  • Beeny Cliff's southernmost headland spur and cave:
    • Top of the headland spur, by coast path - late evening grandstand panorama of sea action on the cliffs on the other side of Pentargon Cove and towards Boscastle Harbour, with periodic outbursts of the raucous 'Punch-and-Judy laughter' of guillemots over on that side, which could be mistaken by superstitious people as coming from evil spirits if the birds are not seen. This time the guillemots' insane bedlams of screamed growls and stilted 'Punch-and-Judy laughter', mostly from one particular two-entrance cave the other side of Pentargon Cove, were more frequent and loud, frequently setting me off into giggles. They became spectacularly wild and persistent as dusk came on, also with a host of oystercatchers - but of course the wind came on for that, so I had to cut out the really spectacular final half-hour from the recording! Other birds heard include herring gull, rock pipit, wren, dunnock.
      The sea sound includes occasional booms and thuds from caves and clefts in the cliffs on the other side of Pentargon Cove. - 76'
    • Closely overlooking the 'vestibule' area and entrance of Beeny Cliff's southernmost cave, from the same spot as previous recordings, concurrent with the above recording, and similarly with the potentially most interesting final half-hour cut out because of the wind. Occasionally a hint of the guillemot bedlam sounds can be heard in the background. Because of the smaller swell than last time, much more (reverberant) sea action details can be heard, including some very quiet booming for a while. - 157'
  • Above Beeny Cliff's main alcove, by wire fence above coast path, facing towards the cliffs leading towards Boscastle Harbour, thus with the alcove and its deep cave booming / rumbling on the right and the steep grassy hill slope rising on the left (where most of any birdsong was expected to originate from). This time I'd learnt my lesson and put the recorder not on a fencepost but on a Zipshot Mini tripod (which I regard as 'midi'-size) just on the upper side of the barbed wire plus electric fence; I was able quite easily to place it at one particular spot just by carefully reaching over the fence. Again I had to cut out huge amounts because of wind disturbance, so that the edited version of the recording is much shorter than the original, and unsurprisingly a fair number of the best bits were lost in the process.
          Because of the smaller swell this time the rumbles and booms in the cave system below tend to be on the quiet side.
          This recording naturally divides into two:
    • Night (10.30 p.m. to 2.30 a.m.). The unexpected star of the show is Manx shearwaters, which passed by occasionally during the darkest hours (only), making their bizarre and eerie calls. Occasionally the bright piping calls of passing oystercatchers give interest, reverberating in the alcove below as the birds pass by, and very occasionally one hears a faint hint of the odd brief outbreak of 'guillemot bedlam' in Pentargon Cove, adding to a certain eeriness of the experience here. - 126' (a 76' CD-length condensation of this also made)
    • Pre-dawn, dawn and early morning (2.30 a.m. to 6.30 a.m.). I could not usefully call this a dawn chorus recording, not only because the numbers of birds taking part along this cliff slope hardly warrant the description of 'chorus', but because the wind forced me to cut out much of what was in the 'dawn chorus' phase of the proceedings. Nonetheless, I did manage to salvage a beautiful sequence of the birds there singing to the new day.
            The occasional very quiet background hum is from a fishing boat going about its business. I actually cut out some large stretches of the recording because of that, but in order not to lose altogether too much I compromised and allowed that hum for not-too-long periods when it was sufficiently unobtrusive.
            This time linnets singing were captured at various times during the recording, though I did have to include some stronger microphone wind noise than usual in order to keep a bit of the early episode of their singing perched on the fence really close to the recorder. Linnets have a particularly beautiful and engaging sound, their acrobatic song having a very sweet musical quality that some people describe as 'wistful'. At times, when the linnets were less close, their song mixed confusingly with those of skylarks and the odd wren. Other birds heard include guillemot (just the screamed growls; no 'laughing'), blackbird (only briefly), meadow pipit, rock pipit, raven (and some very persistent strange calls that are probably a variant raven call), stonechat, herring gull, oystercatcher - 71'
 

17/18 Jun 2017
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Beeny Cliff, near Boscastle, Cornwall - main alcove and southernmost cave, overnight through to dawn period
Actually the main aim here was to get dawn chorus recordings, but the stronger breeze than expected made this largely a failure in that respect. What I have now is the result of a salvage operation, but two recordings were deleted without any salvage attempt as they didn't contain enough wind-free sections to make any salvage attempt worthwhile.
      Actually the dawn chorus was not really what most people would recognise as a 'chorus' along the cliff slope here, but at least some birds did sing considerably more readily than during the main part of the day and made for a wonderful soundscape the like of which I couldn't capture on my usual fully daytime outings.
  • Beeny Cliff's southernmost headland spur and cave:
    • Top of the headland spur, by coast path - late evening grandstand panorama of sea action on the cliffs on the other side of Pentargon Cove and towards Boscastle Harbour, with periodic outbursts of the raucous 'Punch-and-Judy laughter' of guillemots over on that side, which could be mistaken by superstitious people as coming from evil spirits if the birds are not seen. Only a few of the more prominent guillemot outbursts survived my editing to remove major wind disturbance. - 51'
    • Closely overlooking the 'vestibule' area and entrance of Beeny Cliff's southernmost cave, from the same spot as some previous recordings, but this time the length of recording enabled the period of optimal tide for booming to be fully captured. Overnight (10.10 p.m. to 3.15 a.m.) recording, considerably reduced in the editing, My CD selection from this is the later part of the recording, and covers the whole period of significant deep booming and rumbling, much of which is mostly very deep and relatively quiet, so that one needs really good playback equipment to hear much of it. - 157'
  • Above Beeny Cliff's main alcove, on fencepost above coast path, facing towards the cliffs leading towards Boscastle Harbour, thus with the alcove and its deep cave booming / rumbling on the right and the steep grassy hill slope rising on the left (where most of any birdsong was expected to originate from). This is the product of an intensive salvage operation on the original recording, which latter ran from 10.30 p.m. to 6.30 a.m., and is all that remains after my editing out all the significant wind disturbance plus a few disturbances caused by birds perching on the barbed wire, and the sound from that transmitting along the wire and through the fencepost to the recorder.
          Birds heard include herring gull (very distant), oystercatcher, a rather unusual-sounding blackbird, meadow pipit, skylark (briefly), and linnet. In the case of the latter, only their contact calls are heard in this edited version, but actually for a period a group of them was singing beautifully, perched on the barbed wire fence quite close to the recorder - but it was too windy then, and probably I'd have had to cut them out anyway because of their perching on the fence, which would have put unwanted twangy directly-transmitted sounds into the recorder. - 72'
 

30/31 May 2017
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Branscombe Landslip, near Beer, Devon - wonderful grandstand panoramas of night sea sound and exquisite dawn chorus
During my overnight sessions in the Landslip last year there was one recording that I particularly wanted to make but could never do so because the particular spot to place the recorder was a clifftop prominence and always caught the wind too much. From that spot, close to the bottom of the steps from the Coast Path, leading up to the one seat in the whole Landslip, high up almost at the top at the east end, I had an imposing panoramic view over the whole Landslip, and thus at times, and especially during dawn chorus, I was hearing an enormous number of distant birds all proclaiming their little territories. During the main blackbirds phase of the dawn chorus the sound really was a wonder to behold, and yet I could not capture that fully from any lower position.
      So, this time I grabbed a night that was forecast to have the breeze drop to force 1 (very light indeed), at least in time for dawn chorus. It turned out to be quite a frustrating session initially, for the wind was much stronger than expected during the afternoon / evening, and I couldn't usefully record at that high position at all then. But sometime between 9.30 and 10.0 p.m., cloud forms indicating the passage of a very weak and sluggish front came over, and the wind dropped to almost nothing. Round about 10.30 p.m. I decided to set up both recorders to run all night and right through to morning packing-up time, so incorporating the dawn chorus. Afterwards I split the night's plain sea part of the recordings off from the dawn chorus part.
  1. Uppermost position (top priority), on clifftop prominence close to the seat, with the most imposing panoramic view. Even this had to be a compromise, because it was necessary to shield the recorder from the direct sea sound close by but far below, and the only way I could do that without having the recorder's tripod actually on the coast path (a complete no-no) was to use a shorter tripod than I really wanted to use (a Zipshot Mini), so the panorama was a just a little restricted vertically at the bottom. If the sea had been consistently very quiet I'd have used the full-length Zipshot tripod and would have got a somewhat fuller panorama.
    1. Sea wave patterns at night (higher) - a beautiful 'hypnotic' peacefulness, with a constant interplay between the wave rhythms down below on the left and those of the distant sea beyond the far (west) end of the landslip. Because of the acoustics of the landslip and its cliffs, this is a really immersive sound, and would make a great sleep-assist CD. - 186'
    2. The highest grandstand panorama dawn chorus - got it at last! Actually the breeze had backed to south-west and increased a bit sometime before start of the dawn chorus, but at least had died down to only a modest disturbance by the time I wanted to start the dawn chorus section of the whole recording. So, there is some wind disturbance, nearly all near the beginning and a little near the end - but it was very gentle and not intrusive enough to persuade me to cut any bits out.
            Breathtaking! So many singing birds spread out in that great panorama below us! The main blackbirds phase in particular is 'pure gold'! Definitely to make a 2-CD set. - 127'
  2. Lower position (more sheltered alternative) - a little way almost directly below the top position, beside the Coast Path, where its sharp zigzag from the top position turns west on descent, with a narrow rather exposed unofficial track branching off to east from that bend, at the foot of a small bare cliff. This spot too had strongly invited me previously, and indeed when I recorded the 'grandstand panorama' dawn chorus there last year, that had been a fall-back from my real wish to record from this slightly higher position with better panorama. The trouble about this spot was the over-prominent sea sound from right below (on sharp left for recorder facing west over the landslip), and the lack of choice about tripod position; for the panorama it had to be the full-length Zipshot tripod, and there was only one possible placement of its legs without it falling over. But in that position a shorter tripod was needed to shield the recorder from the direct sea sound below to left, especially as the sea was still fairly noisy on that night!
          I therefore decided just to record anyway, with over-loud sea sound down below to left, and most likely discard all that afterwards as sounding too unbalanced.
    1. Sea wave patterns at night (lower) - a beautiful 'hypnotic' peacefulness, with a constant interplay between the wave rhythms down below on the left and those of the distant sea beyond the far (west) end of the landslip. Because of the acoustics of the landslip and its cliffs, this is a really immersive sound, and in my view, no matter how beautiful it is, it is unsuitable for normal listening because of its strong soporific effect.
            Although quite similar, this recording has the sea down below on the left more prominently audible. Surprisingly, this actually made a really nice effect in its own right, with more immediate impression of differentiation between that and the more distant sea sound.
            I may make a CD extract from this recording in addition the one from the higher recording, and in that event it too would be billed as one of my 'ultimate' sleep-assist CDs. - 290'
    2. Grandstand panorama dawn chorus, with more prominent nearby sea sound - got this less high one at last - and almost without significant wind disturbance! Although it is basically the same panorama and dawn chorus sequence as in the higher recording, here the perspective is that little bit closer, so you feel to be a bit more among the birds, and the quite prominent sea sound down beside us on the left gives its own special character to the overall soundscape, giving more a sense of this being a sea recording with dawn chorus running through it. It is therefore a fairly different experience as compared with the higher recording. Because of the acoustics of the landslip and its cliffs, this is a really immersive sound, and would make a great sleep-assist CD. - 118'

 

14 May 2017
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Branscombe Landslip, near Beer, Devon - birdsong on windy afternoon
I made a 3+ hours recording in the fairly low-down edge-of-woods position that I had also used previously for evening and dawn chorus recordings. It was a quite windy afternoon, with a 'strong' (force 6 Bft) wind blowing up through the landslip. Notionally this was a very poor wind direction for having the recorder sufficiently sheltered, but in practice the lie of the land made this still a relatively sheltered spot, with wind gusts constantly coming around and making a commotion in the surrounding trees and thickets. However, because the trees had now got their fresh foliage, the wind sound in them was softened, so taming the roaring sort of sound that I would have preferred here.
      Fortunately my new windshield arrangement, of two 'nested' custom Windcut furry windshields, provided excellent protection considering the basic extreme wind sensitivity of the Sony PCM-D100 recorder's microphones, so that I needed to cut out only a small number of very transient mic noise peaks, and even those were only mildly intrusive and not overwhelming as I'd expected.
      The wind sound is constant, albeit with fluctuations and the superimposed sound of individual gusts moving about in the trees around us - though actually part of what seems to be the wind background sound is actually the sea (left of centre), which has got relatively noisy. That would be making nice echoes and reverberations on the towering cliff, but the nearer wind noise is masking all that. The birds sing well, with a lot of prominent song thrush performance, and presently extended ensembles of blackbirds, on this occasion mostly more or less distant. Blackcap, robin, chiffchaff, robin and wren join in at times. - 178'
      I have taken a section from the recording to make a single CD.
 

10 May 2017
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By Hunter's Path (Hunting Gate), overlooking the Teign Gorge, Drewsteignton, Devon - thrilling sounds from Davis Blanchard wind chimes, also with cheap locally purchased bamboo chimes.
    Another unique and thrilling musical / aesthetic experience, this time with the DB Twilight and The Blues chimes, together with the bamboo chimes. After the really quite awesome musical spectacles afforded by the various clashes and microtonal interactions between other pairings of DB chimes, this pairing comes as a real surprise, for its overall sound is sweet and harmonious, with only the odd teasing hints of the odd wayward note or interval. Also, the tuning of this pair matches particularly well the bamboo chimes, so that instead of sounding to be a wayward contrasting element, their contrast is only in timbre and not much in the pitches being sounded, which key in together remarkably harmoniously.
      The birds were singing even more for these recordings this time, so, together with the mostly gentle wind and thus mostly gentle chimes sound, we have a great pair of recordings of a beautiful overall balance of birds and chimes.
      Birds heard in the recordings (not quite all in both of them) include Willow Warbler (by far the most persistent), Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Mistle Thrush (almost all very distant), Robin, Blackcap (very distant), Skylark (briefly), Raven, Carrion Crow, Buzzard (briefly, distant), Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Wren, Tawny Owl (briefly, distant), Woodpigeon, Whitethroat, Linnet (contact calls, not song), Pheasant.
  1. Twilight + The Blues + bamboo - 129'
  2. Twilight + The Blues - 44'
 

2 May 2017

Blackbird Wonderland! By River Teign immediately upstream of the Teign Gorge, beside the track leading to the Moretonhampstead - Whiddon Down road.
      An amazing serendipity, for the day was a failure for my original objective and indeed also for my Plan B! In the morning I set up wind chimes by Hunting Gate again, high up on the Hunter's Path, but the wind failed me for that. The birds were singing particularly well, but my Plan B pair of long recordings there just for the birds were trashed by the huge amount and variety of disturbances, especially the almost constant succession of seemingly malevolent aeroplanes that gatecrashed on the proceedings whenever the birds were giving a really good performance. However, during my early morning walk-in I'd noticed a particularly impressive blackbird chorus just before entering the Teign Gorge woods, so returned to there for an afternoon 'Plan C'.
      The concurrent pair of 3+-hour recordings I obtained there captured by far the most extended and at times seemingly rapturous blackbird choruses I can remember hearing, and indeed the recordings have little time at all without blackbirds somewhere in the soundscape, apart, perhaps, one several-minute section when a foreground song thrush holds the stage instead.
      The real star performance of the whole recording, however, starting at about 1h35'44 (21'40 on CD 2), was apparently triggered by a very slow-moving small patch of cloud shading the scene for probably about 15 minutes. As soon as the sun went in, the blackbirds became relatively silent for a short while, and then distant mistle thrushes started up. They sound like blackbirds, but their voice is overall slightly higher and more anxious sounding, and their delivery is more hurried, the phrases generally shorter and more frequent, with a definite 6/8 rhythm typically running through the whole song (i.e., through all the phrases and pauses). So, at once the chorus took on a hypnotic dancing character. Soon confusion began to reign, for nearer birds join in, but surely they were blackbirds, or were they too mistle thrushes pretending to be blackbirds? Actually I assume that at least most of the nearer ones were actually blackbirds influenced by the mistle thrushes and doing a partially successful job of mimicking the mistle thrushes; their voices were generally of blackbird pitch and they still sounded more joyful (rather than anxious) and laid-back in their delivery, yet somehow the slower rhythmic bounce in their phrases keys in with the quicker beat of the mistle thrushes. Blackbirds or not, it seemed that the whole ensemble and chorus was dancing, with bouncing phrases passed back and forth and from side to side in this 180-degrees-plus panorama.
      There were actually two other mistle thrush driven dancing choruses captured in the recording, but particular disturbances caused me to have to cut out almost all of those, so that their remnants don't stand out as particularly significant after the requisite editing.
      Other birds adding to the wonderful jamboree at different times are blackcap / garden warbler (I think I was hearing both of these similar-sounding species at different times), great tit, woodpigeon, robin, chiffchaff, wren (rarely), jackdaw, and buzzard - and all this is against the gentle rushing and slight babbling sound of the River Teign close by. Late in both recordings, particularly the more upstream one, some cattle can be heard grazing close by in the field (no mooing - just chomping, breathing, and sometimes their heavy footsteps).
  1. On a fencepost of the electric wire fence bounding the field adjoining the riverside track, facing north-east, directly into the field (up its hill slope), with back to the river. This taught me not to place a recorder on a fence post - particularly of a wire fence - because I had to cut out a great deal from this recording because somewhere probably some 100 to 200 metres further upstream the electric wires had been intermittently 'singing' in the wind. Although I didn't hear that 'in the flesh', the vibrations had transmitted along the wires and up the fencepost, into this recorder.
          Despite that and direct wind gusts and various people, dog and aeroplane disturbances, all of which had to be cut out, the edited version is still a great and rather thrilling 'Blackbird Wonderland' extravaganza, but its additional disturbances forced me to cut out much of the one mistle thrush chorus that I managed to keep in the other recording. - 124'
  2. Just some 25-50 metres further upstream (away from the Teign Gorge woods), facing obliquely downstream and away from the river, towards the Teign Gorge woods, so capturing notionally roughly the same sequence, but, thankfully, placed on a tripod almost against but not touching the electric fence, so it didn't pick up any 'singing fence' sound, and so I had significantly less to edit out of it. Also, the background of river sound is a little louder than in 1., and that masked a fair amount of intermittent disturbance from distant noisy people in the Teign Gorge woods for much of the last ¾ hour, which I'd had to cut out of 1, but had the downside of also masking the most distant blackbirds that 1. had been able to capture.
          A particular star feature of this recording is the aforementioned dancing chorus driven by mistle thrushes.
          The recorder's oblique orientation has resulted in the river sound being brighter and more hissy on the right than on the left, where latter the river was behind the recorder and partially shielded from it by a small bank.
          On balance, I prefer this recording despite its rather louder-than-ideal river sound, because I was able to save more of the main blackbird choruses. - 148' -- CD - Blackbird Wonderland, by the Teign Gorge (1,2) (2 CDs)

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26 Apr 2017
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By Hunter's Path (Hunting Gate), overlooking the Teign Gorge, Drewsteignton, Devon - thrilling sounds from Davis Blanchard wind chimes, also with cheap locally purchased bamboo chimes.
    Unique and thrilling musical / aesthetic experience, this time often with less wind and therefore chimes activity than I was aiming for, but at least a good amount of bird sound, albeit mostly more or less distant. The chimes were another outlandish ensemble: DB Pluto, The Blues, and the bamboo chimes (large and small). Again, the pairing of DB chimes can sound initially discordant, but then that sense of discord rapidly dissipates as a cornucopia of wonderful musical interactions between the chimes unfolds. There is something in the haunting overall sound that seems to be telling a story of some urgency.
      Because of the scarcity of sufficient wind, and the huge amount of disturbance from aeroplanes and to a lesser extent from people, I chose to let just the one recording run for the whole 6-hour session so that I stood the best chance of salvaging at least a full CD's worth of really useful material.
      In the event, the editing reduced it to over four hours, and I didn't want to make a multi-CD set of it. So, as well as keeping the full edited recording I made two condensed-to-CD-length versions. In line with my strict policy of authenticity, these are just condensates and not mixes.
      One really lovely thing in the recorded sequence was that during the last hour or two some very light wintry showers (rain and soft hail) were forming, and just enough came over to give a few very light sprinklings (no umbrella needed), which can be heard in the full recording - the main one coming just before the end, at which time distant blackbirds were getting going. During that shower a new distant blackbird eventually joins in, just left of centre - and then if you know your birds at all you would realize that it sounds a bit different and is actually not a blackbird at all but a mistle thrush (sounds much more like a blackbird than a song thrush).
  1. The full edited recording, with many substantial periods of chimes quiescence (but rarely full silence, as they were usually moving slightly even during apparently calm periods), and the chimes really 'showing their teeth' in stronger gusts only a few times in the whole recording, though there is a modest number of more gently animated episodes that succeed in bringing a quieter sense of musical drama. In the original there were more of the stronger dramatic episodes, but aeroplanes and some people disturbances forced me to cut nearly all of them out. - 248'
    1. CD-length condensate, highlighting the chimes. This does not include the final shower, as there was almost no chimes activity then, but it does finish in a beautiful, musical fashion, with very much a sense of some solemn procession passing by and receding into the distance - indeed, into a sunset (it's that sort of tone colour)! - 78' -- CD - Teign Gorge: Outlandish Wind Chimes Ensemble (3)
    2.  CD-length condensate, highlighting the birds. This finishes with the shower and the final quiet 'coda', in which the chimes have the last very quiet word. Although this CD version does highlight the birds, and I tamed the odd few louder chimes episodes that I kept in this selection, this has worked out in an exquisite musical way, in which birds and sometimes passing flies or, in one case, a bumblebee, add to the ensemble in musically telling ways.
            The birds heard include chaffinch, blackbird, chiffchaff, willow warbler (frequently), yellowhammer, wren, blue tit, woodpigeon, carrion crow, raven, and, towards the end, mistle thrush and dunnock. As already noted, most of the birds are more or less distant, but they are part of a wide panorama, so, with a good stereo separation of your listening system, the effect is breathtaking. - 78' -- CD - Teign Gorge: Outlandish Wind Chimes Ensemble (4)
So, although, yes, I really have become really excited by the fruits of this day's recording session despite this not having achieved really what I was originally after, I do still intend to re-record this particular chimes ensemble, with more wind. That would be more dramatic and varied in chimes sound. One could say that the overall sound then would be more overtly 'symphonic-dramatic' rather than primarily gentle and lyrical as this day's recording tends to feel.

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19 Apr 2017
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Branscombe Landslip, near Beer, Devon - birdsong panorama and sea echoing on cliff
Success! I had another long recording session at the same spot as on 10 April - the one usable tree branch part-way up the little track up to the 'cave' (adit) high up on the towering cliff face - from a bit past midday to 7.0 p.m. This time, although there was still a lot of human and aeroplane interference, not only did I get much longer undisturbed periods, but the birds were performing much more consistently, so my lengthy editing session (taking me more than 2 days), instead of cutting out almost all of the various best bits, this time actually salvaged most of the best, and there was a lot of it! I also made a 'second string' concurrent recording...
  1. Part-way up the 'cave' track - grandstand panorama, from tree branch, facing SSE, obliquely up and across the landslip - a quite outstanding grandstand panorama of birdsong, again with the most direct sea sound to hard-right / behind and its reverberation / echoes on the cliff to left and behind. Wonderful ensembles from time to time, of blackbirds, robins, blackcap, also incorporating chiffchaff, with a number of rather spectacular display / courtship flight calls of ravens, which often made quite odd sounds. The abundance of blackbird and, to a lesser extent blackcap song give this whole soundscape a particularly warm and joyful feel. - 248' -- CD - Springtime in Branscombe Landslip - Panorama from Cave Track (1,2,3) (3 CDs)
  2. In the rough little woodland clearing beside the coast path nearby, where I made a very long recording before on 24 April 2016. This is a significant improvement upon that overall, though this one misses out on the peregrine falcon episodes that the earlier recording captured, but then has more of the raven 'spectaculars' than before.
          However, I have done a 'cheating' compromise to rectify that deficiency by mixing the four peregrine episodes from the earlier recording into this recording, together with a strange-sounding tawny owl call. I would not normally do this, as I have a general policy of full authenticity, with no mixes. - 217' -- CD - Springtime in Branscombe Landslip - Birds in the Woods (1,2,3) (3 CDs) (replacement of the 2016 3-CD set recorded at exactly the same spot)

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10 Apr 2017
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Branscombe Landslip, near Beer, Devon - birdsong panorama and sea echoing on cliff
The result of a salvage operation from a nearly six-hour afternoon recording made from a tree branch part-way up the narrow and precarious track leading to the cave well up on the towering chalk cliff. (I understand that the 'cave' is really an adit rather than a natural cave.) This gives a wonderful grandstand panorama over the lower part of the landslip, facing approx. ESE, obliquely up and across the landslip, with the relatively direct sea sound to hard right / behind, and the sea reverberation and echoes on the main cliff to the left.
      This recording certainly sounds beautiful and haunting, yet I'm very likely not to use it.
      Reason? -- Because it was really far too busy a day there for making such a recording, with an almost constant babble of mostly distant people on the coast path, yacking among themselves instead of really taking notice of their spectacular and inspiring surroundings. I had to cut out all that and salvage what I could from the little bits where nobody was audible. Unfortunately, although I did salvage a notionally useful amount (a bit more than a full CD), most of the really good birdsong sections were blighted with people's voices and therefore had had to be cut out. This has resulted in the final condensate from the nearly six-hour recording being only a pallid shadow of the actual soundscape, with an overemphasis on sparseness of birdsong activity.
      My intent is to try to find a much more suitable day for re-recording from that spot - the catch being, though, that once the trees there have their foliage it would be too late and I'd have to leave it for a future year, as the foliage makes that spot unusable, and there's no ready alternative that I'm aware of. - 85'
(See the next date entry above!)
 

18 Mar 2017
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Just SW of the Shag Rock headland, near Perranporth, Cornwall
Thundering breakers, then writhing sea with rumbles, booms and blowhole whoomphs (from the triple-vented blowhole system on the tip of the headland). Both recordings made at points down the narrow track obliquely descending the very steep cliff slope below the coast path, which follows the line of a sewage pipe. Thrilling and invigorating recordings.
  1. By bottom inspection cover. Well down on the cliff slope and close to the actual clifftops of this very rugged cliff system, and thus close to the sea action. - 70'
  2. By upper inspection cover. This position got easily the most satisfying balance between all the different sea dramatics within a reasonable range, so I'll use this also for future recordings with different sea conditions. - 76' -- CD - Sea Dramatics at Shag Rock - Crashing Breakers and Shaggy Blowhole

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11 Mar 2017
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Beeny Cliff, near Boscastle, Cornwall - main alcove and southernmost cave
A quite modest but relatively 'clean' swell (i.e., with superficial waves not very pronounced), so the basic sound of the swell 'action' is not obscured too much by the usual continuous commotion caused by the many smaller waves.
  1. South side of main alcove - same spot as previous recordings here, but this time with the recorder on a taller tripod and fully exposed to the sea sound on the other side of the alcove, including in one of the two caves that open here. The sea action actually covers a rather narrow angle from this perspective, and I previously tended to make the error of facing more into the cave entrance, so making the soundscape rather unbalanced towards the left. This time I faced the recorder squarely at the sea action on the opposite side of the alcove, to left of the cave, so that the latter's sounds are heard well to right of centre as they should be. However, the sea sound within the cave is always confused, so really the sounds of real interest coming from the cave are the rumbles and booms. This recording starts at low tide with almost no real booming, but makes a fine soundscape in its own right. Eventually delectable mostly reverberant booms do get going, and then come aplenty. - 169' -- CD - Beeny Cliff - Deep Booms & Rumbles - Facing into Caves (2) (2 CDs)
  2. Closely overlooking the decidedly reverberant 'vestibule' of Beeny Cliff's southernmost cave, with the cave entrance to right. The swell isn't large enough to give big dramatics, but what we do get is a beautiful play of minor dramatics in this lovely reverberant acoustic, as the relatively small waves make impacts and sudden splashes at various spots in this vestibule area and the cave entrance. Every so often we do hear generally quiet deep rumbles and booms from deep within the cave, but equally interesting is the boomy reverberations within the cave that are created by the various impacts within the vestibule area.
          However, there's a catch. Following a fair amount of recent rainy weather a little streamlet of run-off water is coming down off the spur of the hill and tumbling over the slaty rocks here and then over the clifftop right here immediately beside the recorder. This is a distraction and doesn't allow one really to focus properly on the beautiful sea sound. On the other hand it's a fascinating combination - but I'm not sure to what extent this rather up-front tumbling streamlet would really appeal to people for extended listening, so I may well not use this for a CD. - 129'

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2 Mar 2017
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By Hunter's Path (Hunting Gate), overlooking the Teign Gorge, Drewsteignton, Devon - thrilling sounds from Davis Blanchard wind chimes, also with cheap locally purchased bamboo chimes.
    Unique and thrilling musical / aesthetic experiences, this time often with rather a lot of wind and some wild and dramatic chimes activity, but very little bird sound.
    As in the previous two chimes recording sessions here, I had considerable difficulty in finding suitable tree branches on which to hang the chimes so that they would each be the right distance from the recorder and from each other, to provide the optimal balance between each of the chimes in the overall ensemble and also between the ensemble and the overall surrounding natural soundscape. I really wanted the chimes a little further from the recorder, but was limited not only by available hanging points but also the need for the recorder to be placed in as sheltered a position as possible; this was less of an issue when I was recording here in 2014 with the (much less wind-sensitive) PCM-M10 recorder.
    The placement limitations should be less during future chimes recording sessions because at long last I have ordered some really long hooks and also some hooks with a very broad curvature at one end, so in future I'd be able to hang chimes on somewhat higher branches that I couldn't reach before, and also somewhat thicker ones.
  1. Pluto + Debussy Bells - an extraordinary-sounding and thrilling combination, with a certain discordance between the two chimes when both are sounding loudly together, yet with an intriguing musical effect that much more than compensates for that. Each of these chimes presents its own nagging tension effect, but the other one adds notes that resolve that tension. So, according to how the wind blows on the individual chimes, one hears a constant emergence of a variety of tension points that then resolve - just as in a composed work of music. I can guarantee, however, that some people would absolutely detest such a challenging and invigorating sound! - 62'' -- CD - Teign Gorge: Outlandish Wind Chimes Duos! (1)
  2. Pluto + Debussy Bells + bamboo (large + small), with really a bit too much wind, though still a wild and thrilling experience - even more so than recording 1. - 60' -- Planned CD - Extraordinary Chimes Ensemble - Bamboo, DB Pluto + Debussy (Part of this recording will be joined into 3. to give a full CD.)
  3. Pluto + Debussy Bells + bamboo (large + small) - a repeat, with rather less excess of wind, which is better really, but actually with the large bamboo chime too close to the Pluto (i.e., a bit too far to the left). It still sounds fantastic, but I'd prefer to re-record this sometime soon with the bamboo chimes both clearly in the centre part of the soundstage. - 63' -- Planned CD - Extraordinary Chimes Ensemble - Bamboo, DB Pluto + Debussy
  4. Debussy Bells + bamboo (large + small) - a beautiful combination, with the bamboo chimes quite forward. - 59' -- CD - Strange Chimes Duos (1)
  5. The natural soundscape (no chimes) - gusts of wind rushing through the trees and passing through low down in the valley - the wind mostly very modest. Recording made earlier in the session. - 53' -- CD - Wind in the Trees, in the Teign Gorge (Full CD to be produced from 5. and 6.)
  6. The natural soundscape (no chimes) - gusts of wind rushing through the trees and passing through low down in the valley. A repeat at the end of the session, this time with rather more of the stronger gusts. - 50' -- CD - Wind in the Trees, in the Teign Gorge (Full CD to be produced from 5. and 6.)

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24 Feb 2017
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By Hunter's Path (Hunting Gate), overlooking the Teign Gorge, Drewsteignton, Devon - Davis Blanchard wind chimes, also with cheap locally purchased bamboo chimes. Unique and often thrilling musical / aesthetic experiences, complete with birdsong here and there.
  1. Twilight chimes. A rather wistful-sounding minor-scale-related motif with a mildly dissonant touch, incorporating an augmented triad, which latter periodically deliciously exposes itself. - 67' -- CD - Teign Gorge: Strange Wind Chimes solos (1)
  2. Debussy Bells chimes - tuned to the whole-tone scale, over two octaves. A mysterious, menacing or 'acid' sort of sound. In its element here out in the wilds! - 52' -- CD - Teign Gorge: Strange Wind Chimes solos (2)
  3. Twilight + Debussy Bells. This is actually an outlandishly discordant combination, suggestive of some of the conflicting brass bands in works of Charles Ives. However, in this context, with the beauty of the chimes sound and the chimes being at either side of the soundstage, the resulting interplay is beautiful and invigorating for those who are open to aesthetic and intellectual challenge. - 60' -- CD - Teign Gorge: Outlandish Wind Chimes Duos! (1)
  4. Twilight + Debussy Bells + bamboo (large + small). The bamboo chimes are placed in the middle, as though they were referees in the discordant interactions between the metal chimes. Again, a beautiful and invigorating experience for those with the right sort of mental capacity! - 81' -- (part) CD - Outlandish Wind Chimes Ensemble (2)
  5. Ditto. I repeated this combination because at the time I had cause to think that in 4. the recorder had been exposed to too much wind (actually it hadn't), so I moved it to what looked likely to be a somewhat more sheltered position and re-recorded. - 46' -- (part) CD - Outlandish Wind Chimes Ensemble (2)

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18 Feb 201
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Chapel Porth and Shag Rock (Perranporth) - thundering surf and sea dramatics
  1. Chapel Porth - thundering surf, the recording made from unofficial relatively low exposed contouring clifftop track just round to the south-west of Chapel Porth. Recorder was facing out to sea, with the waves coming towards it. Initially the waves are crashing down close to the cliff bottom, but the tide is going out, so the breakers become increasingly distant, their individual sound getting part-submerged in the general roar of the wave run-out. - 67' -- CD - Powerful Surf near Chapel Porth
  2.  Just to SW of Shag Rock headland - periodic thundering breakers, with much booming and thudding as the waves hit the bottom of the cliff out-of-sight below.
    1. From my usual spot on a very low drystone wall running down the precariously steep slope below the Coast Path, facing out to sea. - 63' -- CD - Sea Dramatics at Shag Rock - Crazy Breakers!
    2. From by the lowest inspection cover, down a narrow track following the line of a buried sewage pipe, so being much nearer the sea 'action', though further from the Shag Rock headland (to right), but hearing some heavy impacts to left, and the resultant big splashdowns, lengthy because of the clifftop-height spray plumes caused by those impacts. - 74'

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16 Feb 2017 imageimage

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By Hunter's Path (Hunting Gate), overlooking the Teign Gorge, Drewsteignton, Devon - first of a series of recordings using Davis Blanchard wind chimes, also with cheap locally purchased bamboo chimes. Unique and often thrilling musical / aesthetic experiences, complete with birdsong here and there.
The Davis Blanchard (DB) chimes have a distinctive very 'sheeny' metallic timbre, rich in overtones, thanks to the tubes being made of galvanized steel instead of the usual aluminium.
  1. Pluto chimes. These are nothing to do with the previously recorded Woodstock Chimes of Pluto (pentatonic tuning). This eight-note chime is tuned to the minor major seventh chord in two octaves, rather suggestive of a moment just before the choir entry in Neptune the Mystic, the final movement of Gustav Holst's orchestral suite The Planets. It is teasingly dissonant and mysterious in effect. - 72' -- CD - Teign Gorge: Strange Wind Chimes solos (1)
  2. The Blues. This chime uses a blues motif, whose 'blue' note adds a spicy gently dissonant touch. - 51' -- CD - Teign Gorge: Strange Wind Chimes solos (2)
  3. Pluto + bamboo (large + small). The earthy, rustic sound of the bamboo chimes tends to have a really interesting effect upon one's perception of the Pluto chimes. - 66' -- CD - Teign Gorge: Strange Chimes Duos (1)

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8 Feb 2017
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By Shag Rock headland and Droskyn Point, near Perranporth
Thrilling recordings of sea dramatics, to replace earlier sea dramatics recordings made at both locations.
  1. Just to SW of Shag Rock headland
    Around and after high tide, so for the most part the waves are hitting the cliffs without breaking first, though on one occasion in particular a group of particularly large waves does break just before hitting the cliffs, creating temporary pandemonium.
    1. Higher position, on very low vegetated drystone wall that runs down the precariously steep slope below the coast path, with the Shag Rock headland right-of-centre, and capturing the wonderful thundering and booming in the alcove formed between the main line of cliff and the headland. The blowhole on the headland tip is sometimes heard, though on this occasion it's not all that loud. - 68'
    2. Lower position, down precarious narrow track on that same slope, which follows a buried sewage pipe - the recording made beside the lowest inspection cover and thus significantly nearer the sea, with many spray plumes shooting up to clifftop height here. This is further away from the headland, so the dramatics there, including the blowhole whoomphs, are more clearly off to the right, and much quieter, but there is much booming and rumbling from down below, with distant sea dramatics off to the left as well. From this lower perspective the sea sound has a particularly lovely constant writhing quality. - 51'
  2. Just SSW of Droskyn Point
    1. Pandemonium in the cliff alcove. On little clifftop prominence, facing obliquely across mouth of the alcove and out to sea, with Droskyn Point itself just right of centre, and so the body of the alcove filling the right half of the soundstage. Chunky, often crashing and thundering waves are coming in obliquely from left and towards us; further away the breakers are running out into Perran Bay. Within the alcove there is frequent mostly not very strong booming from one or more of the caves there, and occasionally we can hear the excitable clucking / cackling of fulmars on cliff ledges on the opposite side of the alcove. The overall sound is mostly pretty loud and often something of a pandemonium, but it's a most invigorating sound. - 82' -- CD - Sea Dramatics at Droskyn Point - Thundering Breakers, Alcove Pandemonium!
    2. Writhing sea with periodic dramatic breakers. Just a little further along the clifftop to left, away from Droskyn Point, facing straight out to sea. From here we don't hear much of the alcove pandemonium, though at times we can faintly hear the fulmars there. The sound is often relatively quiet and sort-of peaceful, though with a beautiful writhing quality, but then periodically a group of larger waves comes in, breaking as they come near, crashing and thundering as they do so. - 69' -- CD - Sea Dramatics at Droskyn Point - Thundering Breakers!

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22 Jan 2017
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By Chapel Porth, near St Agnes, and by Droskyn Point, near Perranporth
A pair of dramatic and invigorating recordings, the D100 recorder capturing the vividness of the original soundscape.
  1. Chapel Porth - thrilling sound of close breakers crashing and thundering, the recording made from unofficial relatively low exposed contouring clifftop track just round to the south-west of Chapel Porth. Recorder was facing out to sea, with the waves coming towards it. - 47'
  2. Droskyn Point - pandemonium and deep cave booms in narrow alcove in cliff just to SSW of Droskyn Point, Recorder was facing across mouth of alcove, with waves coming in obliquely from behind-right and the alcove pandemonium extending from centre round to the right. - 27'
 

29 Oct 2016

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Beeny Cliff, near Boscastle
Wind conditions were the most favourable at this spot this year, so I took recordings that could replace certain earlier ones.
  1. Wave action and some deep reverberant booms in the mouth of Beeny Cliff's southernmost cave, just round the headland from Pentargon Cove. - 155'' -- CD - Sea in Reverberant Cave Entrance - Beeny Cliff / Pentargon
  2. On fencepost above the coast path, above south end of the main alcove. This recording has the best balance I have yet achieved, giving near enough the same perspective that you would get from the coast path close to the recorder. A quiet and peaceful panorama, with the sound of distant sea dramatics on the cliffs towards Penally Hill and Boscastle Harbour (on the left), and the foreground cliff alcove's sea sounds and mutterings, grumbles, rumbles and booms from the sea action deep within the cave system underneath us (on the right side).
        This soundscape is quite similar to the alcove clifftop ones, but has emphasis on the whole wide panorama, with the cave sounds relegated more to 'atmospheric background'. The sea sound is twofold - the sea action in the alcove immediately below (mostly right of centre), and the sea action on the more distant cliffs the other side of Pentargon Cove, receding towards Penally Hill by Boscastle Harbour (all heard on the left side). - 167' -- CD - Beeny Cliff - Deep Booms & Rumbles, from Coast Path (2 CDs)
  3. Main alcove clifftop, at south end of alcove. At last I got what I consider an ideal balance of the different sound elements from the alcove-top. Like the fencepost recording, this gives a really interesting panorama, with sea dramatics on distant cliffs on the left side, and foreground sea action and cave rumbles and booms in the right half. We are sufficiently shielded from the alcove sea sound for it never to be overwhelming, while it still remains distinct - and the fluctuations in the level of foreground and background sea sound bring about an ongoing shifting-around of the main centre of attention between foreground (more or less right) and background (left), making this a particularly engaging and interesting 'listen'. The earlier part of the recording has mostly 'direct-hit' booms rather than rumbles, and then the rising tide causes those to give way to only small booms and rumbles, these in turn to leading into more concerted mutterings, rumblings and rumble-booms.
        The length of this recording requires two CDs, but each would be too-short measure. For this reason I am allowing an overlap between the two CDs so that each has a reasonable length. - 105' -- CD - Beeny Cliff - Deep Booms & Rumbles - From Clifftop (Part-Exposed) (2 CDs)

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2 Oct 2016

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Beeny Cliff and outside Boscastle Harbour
For once the wind was mostly light to very light, and this enabled me to capture a few things really well that I'd been wanting to for some time.
  1. Beeny Cliff, near Boscastle
    1. On fencepost above the coast path, above the main alcove. This supersedes with flying colours last year's PCM-M10 recordings from fenceposts here, being much more lifelike and really giving the impression of one actually standing there on the coast path, gazing at the broad sea and cliff panorama and hearing all those very quiet subterranean mutterings, grumblings, rumbles and booms from the sea cave system going underneath us. For a little over a third of the recording we hear little of the overt booms, but then the booms become stronger. However, even before many booms really draw one's attention there is an almost constant very quiet slight muttering and grumbling, giving a slight sense of menace to this peaceful soundscape.
          This soundscape is quite similar to the alcove clifftop ones, but has a lighter and more airy sound, with emphasis on the whole wide panorama, with the cave sounds relegated more to 'atmospheric background'. The sea sound is twofold - the sea action in the alcove immediately below (mostly right of centre), and the sea action on the more distant cliffs the other side of Pentargon Cove, receding towards Penally Hill by Boscastle Harbour (all heard on the left side).
          Periodically we hear the odd bird calls. The most distinctive is the stonechat's alarm call, but we also hear calls from linnet and a meadow or rock pipit, and just transiently once from a raven. - 78'
    2. Closely overlooking entrance of Beeny Cliff's southernmost cave, beside Pentargon Cove. Reverberant sound of modest sea dramatics, with some relatively quiet deep reverberant booms. - 202'
  2. Seaward aspect of Boscastle blowhole. As recording 1. below demonstrates, there is not the expected discrete single 'back end' opening to the blowhole, even though apparently most people who think about it at all assume that there is. Rather, the blowhole is just one of many openings into a complex cave system within that area of the ridge from Penally Point to Penally Hill. Depending on the swell activity and state of the tide, different cave openings within that complex will perform their respective dramatics.
    1. About halfway along the narrow exposed track contouring Penally Hill from the 'neck' of Penally Point north-eastwards to a cave alcove. I chose this point carefully, to get a good balance between the loud sea dramatics immediately behind the harbour blowhole (to left) and the various normally quieter dramatics along the cliff here to the north-east.
      We hear the loud back-of-blowhole dramatics well to the left (some 100m away), with quieter dramatics from a cave opening directly below us, and it becomes evident that the latter performances are synchronized with the heavy booming whoomphs, and so this and most likely other cave openings along here are all part of the main blowhole's complex cave system. Then, as the tide continues to go out, the loud activity to the left eases down, only to transfer to immediately below us, where deep subterranean booms and wallops each are accompanied by a jet of spray, whose splashdown we hear clearly. In other words, it looks as though this is operating as a blowhole, albeit not as spectacular as the one ejecting into the harbour.
      This is a quite thrilling recording, with all its detail and interplay of activity on either side and indeed right in front of and actually underneath us. - 104' -- CD - Boscastle Blowhole, Seaward Aspect - Sea Dramatics (1)
    2. Just west of the notional back end of the harbour blowhole, on a precarious low and exposed rock ledge (often used by anglers), getting a fascinating play of surrounding sea activity, with frequent loud punctuations from the heavy boomy whoomphs from the notional back end of the blowhole. That loud activity gradually dies down, leaving the later part of the recording peaceful with just the occasional sotto voce muttering or grunt (okay, fart, then!) from the blowhole back-end. - 104' -- CD - Boscastle Blowhole, Seaward Aspect - Sea Dramatics (2)

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23 Sep 2016

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Beeny Cliff - on cliff edge at top of alcove - a bit south of centre
This captures a lot of 'direct-hit' booms, with an excellent balance between sea sound in the alcove, distant sea sound on the cliffs towards Penally Hill, and the cave booms and rumbles, despite, yet again, a certain superficial choppiness of the sea, superimposed upon the modestly substantial swell.
This was actually a salvage job from a recording session that I aborted because the wind got up too much, and from the south, leaving all otherwise worthwhile recording spots in that area insufficiently sheltered. Initially I actually deleted this recording, but later recovered it and did an intensive editing job to get rid of all significant wind disturbances, so reducing it from some 54' to the current length. - 24'
 

14 Sep 2016

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Beeny Cliff and by Boscastle Harbour
  1. Main alcove of Beeny Cliff:
    1. On cliff edge at top of alcove - a bit north of centre, slightly set back to partially shield recorder from direct sea sound down below in alcove. This actually got a bit more shielding than I intended, although not quite as much as on the 7 September recording at this spot. Noticeable cave sounds are mostly 'direct-hit' booms. - 47'
    2. On cliff edge at top of alcove - a bit south of centre. This one has hit it about right for my aim to strike a good balance between alcove sea sound, distant sea sound, and of course the rumbles and booms below. Noticeable cave sounds are mostly rumbles and rumble-booms, mostly quiet, though towards the end there are some more or less direct-hit booms. - 49'
    3. Part way down south side, facing into the cave entrances. Although I still didn't get a 'clean' swell, again a certain slight choppiness being superimposed upon the swell, making the sea unduly noisy against the cliffs, at least, even without any deliberate shielding this time from the direct sea sound, this recording gets a better balance than previously between the superficial sea noisiness and the rumbles and booms from the caves, and makes a really quite thrilling listen. The recording starts with a lot of 'direct hit' booms, these eventually giving way to cyclic rumbles and some rumble-booms. Towards the end a cluster of larger waves come in, producing dramatic stronger rumbling and rumble-booms. - 132'
 

7 Sep 2016

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Beeny Cliff, near Boscastle - deep rumbles and booms
Yet another attempt to get recordings with the PCM-D100 recorders of the sea's deep booms and rumbles deep within the cave system underneath Beeny Cliff's really 'atmospheric' alcove with an optimal balance between the volume of the sea sound down below, on the one hand, and, on the other, the booms, rumbles and other ambient sounds. On this occasion, although the swell was quite modest in size, it was enough to cause a lot of really distinct booming and rumbling. This time I erred towards too much shielding from the sea sound in the alcove, though at least both recordings thus favoured the booms / rumbles really nicely. In the case of the alcove-top recording, however, one can hardly hear the sea in the alcove at all, which is definitely not what I wanted, though it actually comes out as a lovely recording in its own right. Really a decent 'clean' swell is required, so that I needn't then shield the recorders from the sea sound in the first place.
  1. The main alcove of Beeny Cliff. Many 'direct hit' booms in the first hour, after which the emphasis is increasingly towards more extended rumbles and sometimes 'rumble-booms', as the tide gradually ebbs.
    1. Cliff edge at top of the alcove; I used a line of grass hummock on the actual cliff edge as the shield, the recorder set back just a little from that. As usual, the recorder is facing out over the alcove, and although very strongly shielded from the sea sound below, it is high enough on its small tripod to have an excellent panorama otherwise, including to the left the cliffs beyond Pentargon Cove, leading towards Penally Point by Boscastle Harbour. The sea is quite noisily dramatic upon those fairly distant cliffs, and in this recording that is actually much louder than the sea immediately below in this alcove, and gives a really nice impression of one's being on a clifftop with an interesting panorama. In the second half of the recording we hear the odd distant seal call (probably in Pentargon Cove), and towards the end foreground grasshoppers progressively become more of a feature, sometimes 'singing' in a little ensemble. The bird species heard mostly is linnet throughout, recognisable from their highly distinctive little contact calls as they fly about in little flocks, and the sweet tone of their odd little bits of song. Also the odd pipit alarm call is heard; this could be either meadow pipit or rock pipit, as both were singing at this spot during a July recording session here. - 159' -- CD - Beeny Cliff - Deep Booms & Rumbles - From Clifftop (Shielded) (2 CDs)
    2. A little way down the south side of the alcove, facing obliquely across the 'vestibule', with the left-most of the two cave entrances right of centre. I placed the recorder on a Hama Mini Tripod (tiny) to keep the recorder low enough to be shielded from the direct sound of the sea action. No significant grasshopper sound here, but the most delectable reverberant booms and, increasingly later on, rumbles and rumble-booms. - 189' (Phew!) -- CD - Beeny Cliff - Deep Booms & Rumbles - Facing into Caves (1)
      (2 CDs)
  2. Beeny Cliff's most southerly cave, with Pentargon Cove just round the corner. This time we are lower down, on a bare rock platform that enables us to face into the cave quite closely at almost its own level - though the recorder is actually facing across the vestibule area outside the cave mouth in order to pick up the sea 'action' here most effectively (no shielding here), with the cave's mouth on the right. It was too windy here really, so the recording is shorter than I wanted, but I plan to get a long recording here when the conditions are better. The cave booms are wonderfully deep and reverberant as with the caves under the main alcove, and, being so close to the cave mouth, we hear that reverberation with considerable detail and 'presence'. - 35'

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23 Jul 2016

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Hooken undercliff, between Branscombe Mouth and the Branscombe Landslip
Just off the coast path and towards the towering line of Hooken Cliff, for the sea echoes on the cliff, while the sea is heard more directly from behind. Most songbirds have now more or less ceased their singing proper until next season, but goldfinches are heard from time to time. The predominant bird sounds are actually from herring gulls flying high up, close to the cliff, but we also hear occasional menacing calls from a peregrine falcon. - 78' -- CD - Sea Echoing on Hooken Cliff, from Coast Path on Undercliff

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5/6 Jul 2016

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Fernworthy Forest (dusk / early night) and White Ridge (dawn), Dartmoor, Devon
Conditions didn't favour my capturing really extended singing of the nightjars in Fernworthy, nor capturing the profuse dawn chorus of skylarks on the open moor as I was seeking, but I did come away with unexpected recordings that are really nice in their own right.
  1. Fernworthy Forest, in a clear-felled and re-growing area on the flank of a spur of White Ridge - dusk till about midnight. One recording, edited in three versions as follows:
    1. The whole edited recording - wind in the conifers (lovely effects as gusts move across, mostly lower down on the slope), with initial bumblebees foraging in close-by foxgloves, and a few daytime birds uttering their last sounds of the day, then with occasional mostly brief spells of nightjar flight calls and singing (churring), most of the second half then being just the wind in the conifers (all Sitka spruce). The wind blowing through conifers has a characteristic sound quite different from its blowing through broadleaved trees - a smoother and, at least here, a seemingly more spacious sound. -130'
    2. The wind only (just a few distant nightjar flight calls), for a sleep-assist CD. - 78' -- CD - A Breeze by NIGHT in Fernworthy Forest
    3. The whole recording concentrated into single-CD length, with priority to all the non-wind sounds, so it was some sections with wind sound only that were removed - particularly much of the second half. Also a great sleep-assist CD, even though not aimed at that particular use. -78' -- CD - Dusk and Early Night in Fernworthy Forest, with Nightjars
  2. Open high moor on upper SSE slope of White Ridge, but still very close to Fernworthy Forest (had to stay close for shelter from wind). Dawn atmosphere, with both skylarks (mostly over the top of White Ridge) and other birds mostly in the forest. A very constant wind sound in the forest gives a quiet background continuity sound. Both these recordings were an excellent demonstration of the PCM-D100's ability to hear remarkably well even right behind it.
    Because these recordings seem a bit too similar to justify my putting both of them on CD, it has been really difficult deciding which to use for that; there really is no one right choice here.
    1. Higher position, just a little below the top to avoid the worst of the wind, facing S, obliquely down the slope and indeed obliquely away from the forest. Although this position should have been better for capturing the skylarks on top of the ridge, it was pointing in the wrong direction, and those are heard far round to the right, so that for much of the time they are heard only faintly and not in a proper stereo. Also, much of the middle of the recording was blighted by one or two over-prominent and very persistent wrens. I cut out some of that to make the recording a better listening experience.
      However, this recorder picked up much better than the other one the reverberation in the forest of certain bird sounds, including two occasions when a skylark struck up singing really nearby, and also, late in the recording, when there was a most impressive series of carrion crow calls just inside the forest. Another plus point is the c. 10-minute pre-chorus lead-in, with just the background sound of the wind in the forest. - 132' -- CD - Summer Dawn on Dartmoor - Skylarks and Forest Birds (2 CDs)
    2. Lower position - not that much lower because any lower than this got me wind blowing out of a regrowing clear-felled area of the forest. This recorder was facing SW, directly away from the forest, and looking roughly along the slope rather than down it.. This meant that although it was further from the skylarks over the top of the ridge, it actually heard them better, with more stereo spread. Also it didn't suffer unduly from those dreaded wrens, which in this case were audible but not over-prominent and not requiring any cuts. Because it was nearer to the aforementioned clear-felled area, this recorder captured more distinctly some of the birds in that part, including the odd song thrush, and at times strange wing-clapping sounds are heard - produced by nightjars, though we don't hear them singing.
      The downsides include the loud crows being heard less impressively, much less reverberation in the forest picked up, and no pre-chorus lead-in (by the time I'd chosen this recorder's placement and set it up the first skylarks were already just beginning to sing). - 109'

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23 Jun 2016

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Teign Gorge, near Drewsteignton, Devon - River Teign and dawn choruses, both the latter with lead-in period including nightjars
My attempt in this session to record nightjar choruses at dusk was a fiasco because of minimal performance by said birds, but at least they added themselves in some measure to the dawn chorus recordings. These recordings were intended to be superior-quality replacements for the excellent pair of dawn chorus recordings I made from these two locations on 19 June 2014, and similarly the River-Teign-at-night recordings were intended to replace the equivalent recording of that date.
  1. River Teign (especially Drogo Weir), from Sharp Tor, by the Hunter's Path, (near Castle Drogo), starting about 1.20 a.m. BST I intended this to be a superior replacement for the sleep-assist album that I recorded in the small hours of 19 June 2014, this time with as much exposure as possible from this spot to the direct sound of the weir, so that the sound is more detailed. - 78' -- CD - River Teign in Teign Gorge - From Sharp Tor, by NIGHT (1: exposed)
  2. River Teign (especially Drogo Weir) - As 1., but shielded from the direct sound of the weir, as in the 2014 recording. This was actually split off from the prematurely-started (2.45 a.m. BST start) dawn chorus recording that I made here. - 75' -- CD - River Teign in Teign Gorge - From Sharp Tor, by NIGHT (2: shielded)
  3. Dawn chorus, from near the highest point on the Hunter's Path, running near the top of the south slope of the deep, steep-sided valley - the exact position being by the path, a little to the east of Hunter's Gate, with recorder on a tripod perched on a bit of gorse to raise it sufficiently above the bracken level, and clear of all trees and scrub that would obscure parts of the panorama. This is therefore very much a grandstand soundscape, in which virtually all the bird sounds are more or less distant, and it is therefore a very quiet one. The background sound of the River Teign is therefore also very quiet. The nightjar performance during the initial pre-chorus lead-in is minimal. - 136' -- CD - Dawn Chorus over River Teign - From high up in the Teign Gorge (2 CDs)
  4. Dawn chorus, from Sharp Tor, by the Hunter's Path, much lower down, about 1km to the west. The lower altitude meant a much less quiet River Teign background sound. The lead-in section contains a fair amount of nightjar churring, which stops, however, before the other dawn choristers start their own performance. - 144' -- CD - Dawn Chorus over River Teign - From Sharp Tor, Teign Gorge (2 CDs)

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9 Jun 2016

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Cot Valley, near Cape Cornwall - peaceful sea with Manx shearwaters - 'the devil bird'
My attempt this time to record the 'Manxies' was tolerably successful, though their activity was not as much as I really had wanted, and similarly, the sea was still mostly not as quiet as I was aiming for - and I still had to edit out a lot of microphone wind noise caused by only a very gentle breeze. Most of the 'action' is distant and indeed mostly on the verge of audibility, with periodic nearer incursions and just the occasional more or less close encounter. However, actually that is the best way for a long recording of these birds to be, for no-one of healthy mental disposition would be really seeking to listen to these weird, tormented-sounding calls 'full frontal' all the time for any extended period!
  1. Just round the corner on the coast path, having come out of the Cot Valley on the south side, the recorder being rather set back from the sea to shield it somewhat from the direct sea sound and so improve audibility of the shearwaters when at all distant. However, the tide going out meant that the direct sea sound was picked up increasingly during the recording, though at the same time the swell was decreasing and so becoming rather less noisy. - 77' -- CD - Peaceful Sea at Night with 'the Devil Bird' (2)
  2. Further south-east along the coast path, towards the craggy spur from Carn Leskys, set back a little from the sea but evidently not enough, for the breaking of waves is heard directly even at the start - though that becomes less of an issue as the swell decreases later on. The sea sound is particularly lovely and soothing, especially as the swell decreases. One particular 'Manxie' fly-over is hair-raisingly close and might give you a momentary urge to duck! - 75' -- CD - Peaceful Sea at Night with 'the Devil Bird' (3)

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4 Jun 2016

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Cot Valley, near Cape Cornwall - dawn chorus
My attempts at recording the Manx shearwaters in the darkest hours of this particular night were trashed by a combination of shipping noise and wind, but at least I got two wonderful dawn chorus recordings from the south side of the valley. Indeed the higher one too was partially trashed by microphone wind noise, but with some detailed editing, and cutting off the (less important) later part of it, which was completely trashed, I ended up with a very respectably 'clean' full CD's worth for that.
  1. A retake of a recording I made in 2015, from beside the highest track on the south side of the valley, still fairly high up but where it is sloping down inland towards some houses. This includes a particularly wonderful full half-hour of distant blackbirds in all directions - very likely a hundred or more of them! -130' -- CD - Dawn Chorus in Cot Valley - From South Side (Lower Position) (2 CDs)
  2. Concurrent recording made beside the same track, a little way seaward and so rather higher up, and indeed the recorder perched on a fence post on top of an overgrown drystone wall to give it a particularly high and commanding view, not just over the valley, but taking in the expanse of high ground all around, basically to maximize the blackbird count in the chorus! In this case for some time we have the odd blackbird rather closer, albeit not in full foreground as a foil to the distant multitudes. We do get a foreground singer, though - a wren. Because a slight increase in the wind trashed this recording from quite an early point, I included a longer pre-chorus lead-in with sea sound and the odd faint anticipatory twitters, which gives a nice sense of anticipation. - 78' -- CD - Dawn Chorus in Cot Valley - From South Side (Higher Position)

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28/29 May 2016

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Branscombe Landslip, near Beer, Devon - birds' evening & dawn chorus plus interesting sea sound (2)
Another all-night session, for an attempt at doing a bit of unfinished business left over from the previous session. This time I had only one recorder.
  1. Evening birdsong from the spot used in the dawn chorus recording of 25 May. This time I took care to ensure that the stinging nettles there were well-trampled, and that the tripod legs were all fully clear of any standing nettle plants, so it was a clean recording apart from the usual people / aeroplane disturbances that I have to edit out of my recordings. At one point one can distinctly hear a song thrush smashing a snail's shell on the path in order to get at the soft parts. - 117' -- CD - Evening Birdsong in Branscombe Landslip (woodland edge) (2 CDs)
  2. Sea sound from near top of the landslip in the small hours (by the one and only public seat on the whole landslip). Because of this spot's being more inclined to pick up some wind, I let the recording run for 2½ hours. The sea sound from here has a particular interest, in the interplay between the rhythm of the waves nearby (directly below) and far away to the west (towards Branscombe Mouth). Some distant tawny owl calls at times. - 74' -- CD - Wave sound Patterns at Night, Branscombe Landslip (1)
  3. Sea sound from the dawn chorus recording position (see 4. below); it was actually split off from that recording, which I had started at 3.0 a.m. Being from a lower viewpoint than 2. above, the sea sound is particularly subdued and has a gently dreamy, even 'woosy', and often somewhat 'writhing' quality caused by the interplay of the wave rhythms of nearby and far away. Some distant tawny owl calls, and towards the end we hear the first faint distant bird sounds as dawn chorus time approaches. - 70' -- CD - Wave sound Patterns at Night, Branscombe Landslip (2)
  4. Dawn chorus from a little higher up the coast path steps than last time, to get more of a grandstand view of a very wide panorama of the landslip; for placement I improvised by perching one of my full-size light tripods in a blackthorn thicket (none of the legs touching the ground). Again, this recording has a nice long pre-chorus lead-in period. - 143' -- CD - Dawn Chorus in Branscombe Landslip - Grandstand Panorama. (2 CDs)

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24/25 May 2016
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Branscombe Landslip, near Beer, Devon - birds' late afternoon, evening & dawn choruses plus interesting sea sound
With two D100 recorders briefly, I was able to cover more ground this time, with some spectacular recordings during this extended all-night session.
  1. Late afternoon at western (lowest) end of landslip: Facing the east end of Hooken Cliff towering up, with the sea (far left / behind) prominently echoing on the cliff - a beautiful effect, also with the cackles of fulmars high up on the cliff. Various bird solos and ensembles, including some lovely blackbird ensembles. - 76' -- CD - Branscombe Landslip - Sea Echoes on Cliff, with Birds.
  2. Evening chorus: beside coast path, recorder perched on a slender hawthorn branch part-way up the steps leading towards the clifftop, to get more of a grandstand view of the lower part of the landslip. I actually wanted to record from just a little higher, but couldn't identify a suitable spot to place a tripod or GorillaPod. - 113' -- CD - Birds' Evening Chorus - Grandstand Panorama in Branscombe Landslip (2 CDs).
    (The other evening chorus recording was great, except that it was trashed by stinging nettles moving in the wind against one or two of the tripod legs.)
  3. Sea sound from near top of the landslip in the small hours. There was a beautiful interplay of the rhythm of the wave breaking / draw-back sounds on the shingle beach, between that on the beach immediately below (to left) and that far out to the west towards Branscombe Mouth (right of centre). However, because of wind disturbance I had to discard most of this c. 2-hour recording. - 25'
  4. Dawn chorus, as usual with a good pre-chorus lead-in period:
    1.  On the edge of the open woodland, facing out into scrub / thicket, vegetated undercliff, cliff slope and towering actual cliff. Tawny owls are among the start-off birds this time. - 150' -- CD - Dawn Chorus – Branscombe Landslip (Woodland Edge) (1, 2) (2 CDs)
    2. Exactly the same placement as for the evening chorus part-way up the coast path steps. A beautiful and quite spectacular recording, yet I felt somewhat dissatisfied with it because I'd really wanted the perspective of a rather higher viewpoint, above the level of all the trees in the panorama. - 133'

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8 May 2016
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Branscombe Landslip, near Beer, Devon - Late afternoon birds, in calm surrounded by wind.
I made a 3+ hours recording in the fairly low-down edge-of-woods position that I also used for an evening and dawn chorus recording. The wind was a generally strong south-easterly (force 6 Bft), though backing to north-easterly later on, and this spot quite well down in the landslip was sheltered to a large extent, though with a fair number of gusts of lesser strength coming around from time to time. However, as the wind backed, it became more sheltered down here and mostly nearly calm, though still with a mostly distant background sound of the wind in the more exposed thickets and trees, which masked the very quiet sea sound that you would otherwise hear from here.
    The recording, after a huge editing task, was thrilling, but extreme wind sensitivity of the recorder, combined with an actual fault that caused nearly all the microphone wind noise to be coming from the right, proved tiresome, and so eventually I chose to discard most of the recording and salvage just the serene final third (finishing at about 7.0 p.m.), editing out a relatively small number of further intrusions of microphone wind noise. Even this much more sheltered period still had an exhilarating background sound of the constant wind in distant trees and thickets all around.
    What we are left with is a laid-back sequence of birdsong, with a lot of space for the songs to 'breathe'. Blackbirds are the overall main performer, giving us some beautiful close solos, but also at times with other blackbirds at varying distances all joining in. From here, most of the louder birds become more reverberant with increasing distance, so giving us a great sense of space, depth, and general perspective. Other birds that make themselves apparent include blackcap, chiffchaff, wren, goldfinch, chaffinch and blue tit. - 70' -- CD - Branscombe Landslip - Blackbirds Sing in the Calm Within the Wind

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24 Apr 201
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Branscombe Landslip, near Beer, Devon - birds in the woods
From close to the coast path very near where the cave track comes out - from about 10.15 a.m. to 6.0 p.m., but a huge amount of people and aeroplane disturbance necessitated my editing that down greatly. A gorgeous engaging medley of bird sounds - the birds of any particular species often answering each other between different parts of the landslip, all with a beautiful reverberance, thanks in particular to the cliff towering above, upon which we can hear the echo of each wave of the sea spread from left to right, and sometimes move right around to the left-hand side, where it is coming off the part of the cliff that fell away to create this whole landslip area. A real star turn is provided, mainly in the final hour, by a peregrine falcon having a flyabout and sounding decidedly menacing. - 208'
Please note that this recording is now superseded by the much superior equivalent one made on 19 April 2017, which will replace this recording in the CD relevant set - though I have mixed the peregrine falcon episodes and a strange-sounding tawny owl call from this recording into the newer one.
-- CD - Springtime in Branscombe Landslip (1) - Birds in the Woods (3 CDs, which will now contain the 19 April 2017 recording instead)
I also made three successive recordings concurrently with the above, with a PCM-M10 in order to assess the difference between the two recorder models' sound - and this convinced me that it was no longer worthwhile my recording with the M10 using its internal microphones, as I would want to replace them all with recordings of D100 standard. I have uploaded those three to Freesound and have deleted my own copies to save space - which is why they are not listed here.

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N.B. Following the 25 March recording listed below, I deleted the complete days' recordings for the next few sessions using the PCM-D100 recorder. Although they were magnificent recordings fundamentally, they were blighted by microphone wind noise owing to the insane degree of wind-sensitivity of that model's microphones, coupled with some sort of design flaw of that model that resulted in each individual recorder having its own polarity and level of inequality of wind-sensitivity in its two microphones. In this case the microphone wind noise sounded mostly to be coming from hard right, which sounded altogether wrong and rather hectoring. Fortunately, Sony replaced that recorder in exemplary fashion. The replacement has an imbalance of wind sensitivity towards the left side, but it is not of a degree that is readily noticed when listening. Also, in June 2016 at last I arrived at a tolerable wind protection setup, involving a furry windscreen over a particular non-furry one.

It may sound drastic, for me to have actually deleted a bunch of in many ways excellent recordings - but the reality is that if I kept them I would only be seeking to replace them at the first opportunity, and it would be much less work and stress for me to be clear of them altogether (and so not to be continually tempted to spend further time / resources on any of them) and simply focus on recording some sort of equivalents next year.


25 Mar 2016

Beeny Cliff, near Boscastle, Cornwall - deep cave booms
The primary reason for recording here yet again was to give a meaningful first test run for a new recorder - the Sony PCM-D100. This was in particular to test the recorder's up-to-100dB signal / noise ratio function in a rather brutal way that wouldn't demonstrate the s/n ratio but would show if that function enabled the recorder to handle strong peaks loaded with very low frequencies (many indeed completely inaudible, with energy peaks in the 10-12Hz range!).
  1. Part-way down south side of cliff alcove, facing obliquely into cave entrances, placed so as to be partly shielded from the vigorous direct sea sound. This was made with the D100 recorder, set at a normal recording level, not at the much lower level that my old recorders would have to be set to in order to avoid distorted booms. It came out perfectly, without a hint of distortion and not requiring any level adjustment - though it did require a significant boost of the very low frequencies, unlike the PCM-M10, which regularly requires a cut of lower bass. - 45' (my first 'proper' recording with the PCM-D100)
 


For the large number of earlier recordings (all made on Sony PCM-M10 recorder), please see Part 1 of Broad Horizon Natural Soundscapes.


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