Between two gibbons
I was in Thailand for another project in early December 2018, and I managed to get 5 days at Khao Yai National Park (3-hours drive from Bangkok), a park mentioned by Robert Malpas few weeks back during a WSRS field meeting in the UK, where I was looking for a good place where to deploy my rigs while in South East Asia.
I spent the first two days recceing and understanding what wildlife was in the area, to hear the available options. The presence of wild-elephants was crystal clear since day 1, and I went all over the place trying to capture nice close ups. Lar gibbons and great hornbills are also present in good numbers in the park, which both give good recording opportunities.
After a few days of exploration, and sneakily entering the park early in the morning while the guard was asleep, I got familiar with the areas where to possibly record elephants, gibbons and/or hornbills. Failing miserably at getting these elephant recordings wasn’t in the plan, really frustrating. I although managed to get good results placing my rig underneath a berry tree where lots of hornbills would stop for a snack at dawn. This was so fascinating, even during the day I could hear berries being dropped all around by any sort of bird present on the tree. I called this recording ‘Berries Feast’, where the overall geophony is made by berries being dropped on the ground at early dawn, rather than rain drops a I thought in the first place.
Recorded in ambisonics with Reynold’s Microphone A-Type II first order ambisonics mic and Zoom F8, decoded to Binaural
The gibbons calls caught my attention, and by the second to last day I managed to get quite close to them while they were calling in the morning, between 7am and 11am, information I originally read on a few documents found online. Unforgettable experience.
I haven’t managed to get a good recording yet though.
Last day, time is running out to get a good gibbons recording, forget about elephants. I decided to focus entirely on the gibbons and leave my two rigs (main rig Reynold’s Mic with Zoom F8, and a Zoom H3-VR) at two known spots. During the previous days I learnt where the gibbons would spend most of their time, in a vast area near a tower hide. I, 99% of the times, leave my rigs unattended, but that morning I decided to pick up my main rig at around 9am, hoping to have the recording I was looking for the night before already, but also eventually use my rig during the last two hours of gibbons-show. While walking around the jungle at 9am, I recognise some gibbons calls not too far, I decided to follow them slowly. I managed to get underneath a pair, but everytime I moved, they stopped singing and moved to the next tree. After them getting quiet a couple of times, I decided to sit down and relax. Few minutes afterwards, they started singing again...
The original first order ambisonics has been upsampled to third order ambisonics using Harpex, and decoded to Binaural for headphones listening.
My team and I also produced a 360 video afterwards to bring awareness about this amazing animals, with me (embarrassingly) explaining to camera where I was, followed by the actual recording.
Following you can download a great PhD paper about the white-handed (lar) gibbons with a deep research into their call ‘The Vocalisations and Anti-predatory Behaviour of Wild White-handed Gibbons (Hylobates lar) in Khao Yai National Park, Thailand’ (2010) by Esther Anne Elizabeth Clarke