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Listen to some recordings made with some of the equipment I have recommended in the WSRS newcomer's guide to wildlife sound recording. Some of the people in the WSRS have been recording for many years, but most of these recordings are made by a recordist with less than a year's experience, so you should easily be able to achieve similar results with similar subjects and conditions! Estimated subject distance and wind conditions from the BBC forecast for the locality are in brackets.

Woodland Blackbird, Suffolk, 13 Apr 2006, MKE300 (20m, 0mph)

Willow Tit, Rutland, 8 Oct 2006, ATR55 (~5m, 14mph)

Long-Tailed Tits feeding, Suffolk, 29 Sept 2006, MKE300 (10m, 12mph)

Juvenile blackcap, Suffolk, 6 Aug 2006, MKE300, HiMD, (10m)

Song Thrush, Suffolk, 15 Feb 2006, MKE300, HiMD, (20m, 4mph, skylark and robin in background)

Great Spotted Woodpecker, drumming, Suffolk, 18 Feb 2006, MKE300, HiMD, (no visual contact so dist unknown, 6mph)

group of blue tits mob a barn owl and eject it from a bush, Suffolk, 29 Sept 2006, MKE300, HiMD, (10m, 8mph)

Recordists's note - many of these recordings are rough and ready. Some were made in a local nature reserve during weekday lunchtimes to illustrate this article. You can hear what wind noise sounds like in the trees, and on some you can hear that we have far too many aircraft in the UK. They aren't up to the standard many WSRS members aim for. I could have chosen some recordings from the WSRS Sound Magazine, which would have been free of these faults, or issued the gear to some of the experienced members and asked them to get flawless recordings.

I didn't do that. Partly because I needed a lot of similar examples in a short time, but mostly because newcomers need hope. Your first recordings will have some of these faults. Don't give up. I used the same equipment to make the blackbird recording as I used for the longtailed tits. The recording circumstances were better for the blackbird. Make more recordings and your skill will improve. Good photographers shoot a lot more pictures than bad photographers, and they shoot bad photos too. Some of their skill is knowing what to throw out. Even with this entry level gear the limitation on many of these recordings is my skill and patience, something I can improve.

The issue with most of these recordings is unwanted sounds - wind, aircraft. Improving that is a question of recording more - and choosing my time properly. Lunchtime is never great for birds, and the wind is up just after the autumnal equinox.

Yet for all their faults in all of these recordings you can hear the primary subject clearly. You'd know if you heard one of these species again. In the early stages of recording, getting a clear recognisable recording is a pretty good target to aim at. These recordings are a reasonable indication of the sort of results you'll get if you use these kinds of microphones, get some basic wind protection for the mics and go out and record.

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