Trials and Tribulations on the Moors

I am fortunate to live within driving distance of the UK’s Peak District in Derbyshire. Over the years I have made many recording visits to the White Peak area. Almost always by 6am there is an all pervading hum of milking machines which is not easy to filter out of recordings. So, I decided to venture further afield and explore the Dark Peak area. I chose a site which was accessible by road but from where I could walk to have at least one substantial hill between me and any road.

View from the moors

I spent the night on the moors in order to be in position at dawn. There was near silence: no cars and not even a breeze. The only problem I experienced was the sheep which seemed convinced that my fluffy mic wind-cage on its tripod was a lamb. They only left when I covered the mic rig with a plastic rain cover to obscure its “woolly” outline.

Well before dawn Skylarks were high in the sky singing well. I had heard Golden Plover and Red Grouse and, with my gun mic rig, I was hoping for some good habitat recordings. The Grouse were calling well but often from way off in the heather and nowhere near my mic rig on the footpath. Never-the-less I did get some recordings, more atmospheric than habitat, but with the occasional Red Grouse call. Here’s a clip of Red Grouse flying in.

      Red Grouse

A couple of weeks earlier WSRS recordists had been out enjoying an aircraft-free sky thanks to the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull. I wasn’t so lucky! In fact I think I experienced the “catch-up” weekend as from 4.30am there was almost a continuous stream of aircraft as you can see from this photograph. Recording opportunities were thus a bit limited, though descending into the valley later that morning I did manage a few seconds of Spotted Flycatcher between aircraft rumble.

      Spotted Flycatcher

Aircraft vapour trails
Aircraft vapour trails – how many can you count?

Have birds ‘got it in for’ wildlife sound recordists or is there a correlation between the onset of aircraft noise and avian vocal activity? Recording geese in Norfolk earlier this year it was noticeable that aircraft noise seemed to elicit flocks taking to flight and calling. During my morning on the moors the closest calls of Golden Plover seemed to be elicited by aircraft noise. A discussion topic for the WSRS Forum?


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