I’m very fortunate to be able to do a lot of my recording on a private estate near my home. It’s a wonderful location: a large shallow lake with reed beds and swampy corners, surrounded by mixed woodland and farmland, with zero public access. Not only is it rich in bird life, but a splash in the background of a recording can mean a leaping trout or a pair of hunting otters. Best of all, most of the time I can record in the daytime, midweek, with hardly any background noise, other than the occasional roar of a low flying military jet or the drumming of a Chinook chopper.
So this access is something of a luxury, and I do get a little lazy. The other morning in early June I thought I’d do some lakeside stuff with my stereo mics, and set my alarm for 3 am. I was in position at 4 am, hidden in the reeds by a small channel between the islands, and immediately surrounded by breeding Black-headed gulls, Tufted duck, Coot, grebes and the occasional Shoveler and Gadwall Lakeside. A perfect morning – flat calm, warm and no background noise – so why was I so dissatisfied?
Well, I realised I should have been there all night. 4 am was already too late. I bet there were some fantastic sounds to be recorded earlier on. Next time I’ll take my mini-hide in the evening and bed down with a hot flask and plenty of spare batteries.
Location, Location, Location yes, but don’t forget Timing, Timing, Timing.