Beginning in 2010 I have been filming singing birds, not all of them true
mastersingers, but all delightful to listen to. The sound was always
recorded at the same time as the image. Between 2012 and 2015, I often
used a Canon FD(L) 100–300 mm lens with my Canon XL-H1A, and usually had
the Telinga mic attached to the same tripod as the camera. Several of the
audio clips on the Mastersingers
page are also
from such recordings. The flying cranes movie was made with the XH-A1s
plus the Telinga. Beginning in late 2015, a Panasonic GH4 has been my
Obviously, the below videos are (with two possible exceptions) not meant
as complete movies but only as material for future productions.
Lately, static or dynamic sonograms (made with Izotope RX v. 2 and Debut
v. 1.83) have been added to some of the movies. See below,
movies and links marked with ®
and red text
. More to follow!
Several more videos of birds can be found on the page More
birds, and other flying friends
and on my
early attempt in June 2011, XL-H1A with standard 20x zoom lens and inbuilt
mic). See also below, June 2013!
(svarthätta, another recording without any extra equipment. Steninge,
early July 2011.)
(tranor, Lake Hornborga, April 2012).
European Pied Flycatcher
flugsnappare) presenting some variations on his characteristic melody.
Hålanda, 4 May 2012. In the audience: a tree pipit (trädpiplärka). Camera:
XLH1A, mainly inbuilt optics but one scene with Canon FD lens. Sound:
Telinga Pro 5 with Stereo DAT mic. (To be completed.)
(Sv: Taltrast). Hålanda, Sweden, 26 May 2012. One
might think that this very common bird, or at least the individuals that
live near settlements and are used to seeing and hearing human beings,
should be an easy target for photo and film. In my experience this is not
the case. The bird is quite shy, and if it spots you even at a long
distance it leaves at once. This recording is of 6 consecutive minutes.
Video: Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD 100-300 mm lens. Sound: Telinga Pro 5
parabole with stereo DAT mic, recorded on the HDV tape.
, May 28, 2012, Hålanda. The Swedish name Törnsångare
(Thorn singer) is really fitting! The sequence ends with a meadow
(ängspiplärka) that listens to the whitethroat and responds
in its own way. XL-H1A first with standard 20x zoom lens, then with Canon
FD 100-300mm. Sound: Telinga Pro 5 with stereo DAT mic.
imitating a brambling
(blåhake som imiterar en bergfink), early June
2012. A sonogram image
Bluethroat showing part of its repertoire during 4 minutes. Storådörren,
early June 2012.
. The dynamic
from the above movie.
® Blue bubbles with sonogram.
This 4 minutes continuous recording of a quickly moving bluethroat is not
so much a video as a soundtrack with a few successful video parts
attached. As usual it was very difficult to spot the singing bluethroat
with the long tele lens (equivalent to 2.200 mm), and even more difficult
to keep track of him when he moved. Beside the bluethroat's many
imitations and other more or less peculiar sounds (including the bubbling
starting at 1'9") you can hear a cuckoo, (very faintly) a willow warbler
and a reed bunting, and finally (more close) some mosquitos.
Whinchat in wind
(buskskvätta, Hålanda, early August 2012 – a good singer, but not singing
(steglits, Hålanda, early August 2012 – deplorable camera technique,
better song technique!)
(ladusvalor, Hålanda, May and August 2012). They speak for themselves...
from the top of a fir, 21 april 2013, Hålanda. Yes, a favourite! And he
was sitting still... Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD at an equivalent focal
length of 1.200 mm, Telinga Pro 5 parabole mic.
(rödhake, 21 April 2013, Hålanda).
European robin, with
dynamic sonogram. The same recording but with the sonogram
running in parallel:
(grå flugsnappare, early May 2013, Öland)
Another willow warbler
(lövsångare, 1 June 2013, Stensjö Strand, Halland). A blackbird sings too.
Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD 100-300 mm lens. At this occasion my Telinga
parabole was on service so the inbuilt microphone was used (mono
recording). This is why the blackbird completely dominates the sound
(koltrast, 1 June 2013, Stensjö Strand, Halland)
Evening concert at
, with dynamic
The same recording but with the sonogram running in
Great reed warbler (trastsångare) and great bittern
(rördrom), these birds only heard. 17 June 2013.
Sound of great
(rördrom). Hof, Tåkern, Östergötland 17 June 2013.
(större hackspett) feeding the young, and their typical
sound. Hof, Tåkern 17 June 2013.
(enkelbeckasin), typical sound from stationary position. Vålådalen,
Jämtland, June 26 2013.
from a rooftop, Hålanda 29 April 2014. He may not be a mastersinger, but
surely is a great performer! XL-H1A, Canon FD lens 100-300 mm, Telinga Pro
The same starling
the day before, a close-up.
For (many!) more starlings, go here
Hålanda 5 June 2014. Most probably the same individual as on the audio
recording from 10 days later (see the Mastersingers
page), but not the same as the one singing in 2011.
has just arrived in the garden and greets us with a little crazy evening
concerto from a birch. But did he come alone? Hålanda, 21 March
2016, Panasonic GH4, Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200 tele lens + 2x
teleconverter (effective focal length around 1300 mm), Telinga Pro V
parabole with stereo DAT mic. No editing except that I put together a few
short and almost consecutive clips. Note the imitations starting around 40
seconds (blackbird/koltrast, whitethroat/törnsångare?, eurasian
curlew/storspov?). Sorry for the background wind+traffic noise, any
substantial filtering would distort the song.
Next are some clips from May 6–12, 2016 in Hålanda, featuring
four common birds: robins, willow warblers, greenfinches and yellowhammers
that competed for the best seat in the highest pine top around. The first
movie is rather special.
Many birds are known to sometimes sing with a weaker song than usual.
It is not quite clear which role(s) such "silent song" has, but some
experts say there are two kinds: (1) subsong, which is not as articulate
as the normal song and is sung by inexperienced birds and out of season,
and (2) whisper song, which is quite normal except when it comes to volume
and which is sung by adult birds in the midst of heat and often near the
nest. See for example
. As far as I know, the
Swedish term "skuggsång" covers both kinds of silent song.
Here we first hear a duet or rather a song duel between a robin (visible)
and a willow warbler (not visible). Note that the two songs are equally
strong. Then, the robin ducks and in comes a willow warbler. When he (?)
starts to sing it is with a very weak voice – one has to look
carefully at his throat to be sure that it is he singing. He goes on
singing for a while and then flies away. At the end we again hear the
"normal" willow warbler together with the robin, just for comparison with
the silent singer.
It should be added that there was most probably a willow warbler nest
close by, since I saw one bird flying in and out of a dense pine tree. So,
this could well be an example of "whisper song" in heat.
--to be completed--
A composition from two mornings at the
western shore of Hålsjön, Ale, Sweden on June 11-12, 2016. The main
character is a singing reed warbler – this marvellous rap artist – and we
also get a glimpse of him flying together with his mate. A shorter shutter
time would have improved that scene! We see a reed bunting listening to
the reed warbler and we hear a number of other birds including a blackbird
and a common crane (towards the end). There is also a surprise voice in
the beginning – now you have been warned! Please note that the last
five seconds or so of the reed warbler's song in the close-up scene
towards the end is sung very quietly and with closed bill – compare
the Silent Song video above.
As usual these days the scenes were shot with a Panasonic GH4, an
Olympus tele lens corresponding to max 1600 mm, and finally my dear
old Telinga Pro 5W with its Stereo DAT mic.
Here is first another composition, a small movie featuring the three
imitators presented above: bluethroat, marsh warbler and song thrush.
(Swedish speaker voice).
On May 28 2017, close to Byrum at
north-Western Öland, I was out at 4:30 AM trying to get a glimpse of a
thrush nightingale (näktergal). Suddenly I saw one sitting in a dead tree
some 5 meters away, without noticing me. First it sat silent and looked
like a museum specimen. Then it started singing. Camera: Panasonic GH4,
Olympus tele lens, filmed in full HD but this copy is in 720p format.
Sound: Telinga Pro V with Stereo DAT microphone. The Baltic sea in the
background, no filtering.
While the song displayed here is characteristic of the thrush nightingale,
these birds have a much greater repertoire. For longer, pure audio
recordings of thrush nightingales, including two from a nearby location,
A little later on the same morning and the same location, I got some close
shots of a willow warbler. Like the song thrush, our commonest bird is
rather shy and not quite easy to film when singing, but at this occasion I
was standing in the direction of the rising sun so he probably did not see
me at all. Among background voices: a thrush nightingale (best heard in
In the natural reserve near Glassvik, Steninge (Halland),
the landscape is kept open by grazing sheep. Enormous junipers (svenska:
enbuskar), brambles (björnbärsbuskar) and honeysuckle (vildkaprifol; end
of movie) are character bushes and plants. The reserve is a known location
not only for Common Linnet (hämpling) but also for Common Rosefinch
(rosenfink) which is actually becoming rare in Sweden. Here one first
hears at least two singing linnets – only one seen, but look carefully,
and you will surely hear a second one! Then the friendly call of a
rosefinch – "nice to meet you", or "hej på dej, du" – is heard to the
left, but the bird is hidden in dense foliage and I fail to catch it on
video. A chaffinch (bofink) is also heard now and then, as are raindrops
on the parabole. 6 AM on 11 June 2017, GH4, Olympus tele and Telinga Pro V
with Stereo DAT mic.
Then a few glimpses of a Redstart (sv: rödstjärt) couple. They are busy
feeding their young, who are not visible because the parents warn them for
me. Steninge Kyrkby, 2:30 PM on 22 June 2017, the usual equipment. For
redstart song see the Mastersingers
--to be completed--
Finally: Blyth's Reed Warblers (Swedish: busksångare)
are rare guests in Sweden. This spring, one of them has stayed a long time
in Grästorp's community, Western Sweden, and has become something of a
celebrity among ornithologists and local people alike. Here are 5+ minutes
of his remarkable sound production, recorded around
AM on June 27, 2017. Camera: Panasonic GH4 with Olympus tele lens, focal
length equivalent to 1600 mm. The video is in full HD (1080p), but the
moving leaves makes for a high information content, so don't use the HD
setting for streaming if you don't have a fast connection. The picture
should be sharp! Sound: Telinga Pro V; a very gentle noise filtering has
been applied to dampen the sound from the nearby stream. – For pure sound
recordings of the same bird see the Mastersingers
page, or soundcloud.com/user-370092153/zoom0033-2
January 14, 2018