Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. It is very true, but luck often eludes the wildlife sound recordist!! However, that is what makes this blog posting notable.
I was fortunate to be able to record in Macedonia in spring 2011. I was in the mountains in the south of the country with a group of recording friends. I heard Nutcrackers calling from a very long way away but one or two others in our group managed to record them. A day later at a different location, a few miles away, I heard them again, this time much closer, just by a tourist track in a national park. They didn’t call for long, certainly not long enough for me to get my gear set up. The next day I went back to the location and simply waited around from soon after dawn for them to appear, I was hoping that they were creatures of habit and would be in the same place. I was rewarded with a family of them calling from high in the conifers almost above my head. They soon stopped calling but were clearly visible as a family group in the trees nearby.
As a wildlife sound recordist you learn to wait and control any impatience. So I waited, then to my surprise, two Nutcrackers flew into a tree very close to me and called. In fact they were so close that had my arms been a few centimetres longer I could have reached out and touched them. They seemed almost oblivious to me and simply called and moved around in the trees and came closer and pecked on branches, presumably for grubs, for the best part of 40 minutes. While I recorded, I even managed to take some photographs with my digital pocket camera.
Eventually they moved off and stopped calling, but that was not the end of the experience. I stayed within 250m of the spot where they had called but kept ‘bumping into them’ as I walked along the tourist trail. One bird in particular seemed to be accompanied by a family of Long Tailed Tits wherever he went. Were they looking for food disturbed or dislodged by the Nutcracker? I don’t know, but it seemed to be more than just a chance encounter between the two species. Here’s a clip from when one Nutcracker was foraging with the Long-tailed Tits.