This spring, I was recording in the Balkans with some WSRS enthusiasts.
One day we visited a wetland area near Strumica. We arrived at noon but access was difficult on muddy tracks after recent rain.
Despite being the middle of the day, there was a lively soundscape, dominated by the loud voices of Great Reed Warblers, Acrocephalus arundinaceus against a background chorus of croaking frogs, Pelophylax kurtmueller.
It was easy to record the ‘grating’ Reed Warblers and I soon had bankable recordings of this species.
Then, I found myself with an hour to spare and recording time on location is not to be wasted. I squelched along a muddy track and came upon a gap in the reeds with a vista of open water and feeding Black Terns, Chlidonias niger.
The birds were too far away for open ‘omnis’ but were within range of my high output directional Telinga.
I started recording speculatively but the terns remained silent. I remember recording the closely related Chlidonias leucopterus in Cyprus a few years ago and the latter were quite vocal.
I watched the birds hawking like swallows and dipping down to take insects from the surface. It was entertaining but after 10 minutes ‘on axis’, I was still waiting and wondering.
A party of Squacco Herons visited the pool in silence and now by early afternoon, even the noisy Great Reed Warblers were resting their voices, which turned to my advantage later.
I was recording continuously and hand-holding my Telinga. Readers may wonder why I was not using the pre-record buffer and a tripod, and the answer lies the current weight restrictions on hold baggage. I cannot justify packing heavy tripods, long cables or wellington boots on flights abroad.
Time was passing and doggedly, I persisted recording speculatively. Back in the 20th century, I would have balked at depleting a Ni-Cd on my battery-sapping DAT machine, or even filling a DAT tape unselectively.
Luckily, battery life and media limitations were not a problem so I stuck to my task, filling a memory card with some big files and getting wet feet.
Of course, patience does not always work, but on this occasion, I got my reward after 30 minutes, by way of a few flight-calls. Further, the signals were not masked by noisy Reed Warblers.
Nothing amazing of course, but a souvenir of my visit and a new species for my personal collection.
Listen now to the strident nasal calls given in a dispute between birds.
I think you will agree, that it was time well spent!