Birds and birdsong on film
Svensk text kommer förhoppningsvis snart!
Nowadays you can see a great number of birds in
excellent nature films on many different media. There are also extremely
good sites for birdsong, and there are artificial intelligence gadgets
that you can install on your smartphone to help you recognize a bird from
its song. What is still not too common is birds filmed when singing.
However, seeing and hearing a close-up film clip of a singing bird is not
only a great experience but can give you a quite new understanding of both
the bird and the song.
At least, so I think. Beginning in 2009 I
have therefore been filming birds, not all of them true mastersingers but
most nice to listen to anyhow. I have often used powerful telephoto
lenses, and the sound was always recorded at the same time as the picture,
usually with high quality. The sound volume differs so be prepared to
adjust it. Many of the filmed birds do not produce any sounds except
possibly different types of calls, but putting them on a separate page (as
in the previous version of this site) would create an unnatural border.
I am not an ornithologist but a lover of
nature and birdsong. So many videos here are of quite common birds that
just happen to sing beautifully and/or interestingly, and/or are nice
and/or interesting to look at. There are a few truly rare birds on this
page, but last year I stumbled upon two by chance (2018
Obviously, the short videos that you find
below are (with a few possible exceptions) not meant as complete movies
but only as material for future productions. The clips are a heterogeneous
lot both contentwise and technically. Presently they are chronologically
organized (that's the easiest way for me) on a single page, but I am
considering several other alternatives. For example, there could be a
species list here with links to the videos. Please tell me what you think!
In the meantime, here is the chronology:
A number of videos from 2009–2011 were shot
with the great Canon HV-20 and its good microphone DM-50. Between late
2010 and mid-2015 my main camera was a Canon XL-H1A, often with a Canon
FD(L) 100–300 mm lens. A Telinga parabola with Pro 5W handle and Stereo
DAT microphone was and is regularly used for the sound. The flying cranes
(flygande tranor) movie in 2012 and the Northern Wheatears (stenskvättor)
in 2014 were made with the versatile XH-A1s plus the Telinga. In late
2015, a Panasonic GH4 became my first camera, presently it is a GH5.
The first video editing was done with Final Cut Express but most has been
done in Final Cut Pro Studio (FCP7). The Messina movie from 2015
was done as an exercise in FCPX, which I hope to learn some day... Static
or dynamic sonograms made with Izotope RX/RXII and Debut v. 1.83 have been
added to some of the movies. See below,
movies and links marked with ®
and red text
All the movies are actually located on Vimeo
and embedded on my site. This has the advantage that you can use all the
Vimeo buttons, for example to show the movie in full screen mode. The
movies are not downloadable and not embeddable anywhere else, but the
Share via Email button (the paper swallow) works.
You may find some more bird movies on my
, but there is a reason why they are not on this site.
In these first clips you see a flock of Alpine
(sv: Alpseglare) and hear their characteristic sound, which
is quite different from that of the Common Swift (tornseglare, see below).
Capo Caccia, Sardinia, early May 2009. Camera: Canon HV-20, probably with
wide angle lens and microphone DM-50. Some noise reduction performed with
Izotope RXII, but you still hear the sea and people (with dogs) standing
around. For some context, see the page for Project
Common Swifts (tornseglare,
"tornsvalor") are common both in southern Europe and in the North. Here
are some 3 seconds from Alghero, Sardinia in early May 2009 (camera: Canon
HV-20), then some 14 seconds from Hålanda, Sweden on around 1 August 2010
(camera: Canon XL-H1A), and finally some 4 seconds from Hålanda in the
evening of 1 July 2011 (also XL-H1A). Note the sound of the wings when the
swifts just miss you.
On this video you cannot see any birds, but
hopefully hear a lot. The Sardinian soundscape is as fascinating as the
landscape. Here an early morning near Oliena, Sardinia, May 2, 2010. European
(biätare), European turtle doves
and a lot of other voices are heard. Canon HV-20 with, I think, wide-angle
extension lens and DM-50 mic. For some context, see the page for Project
Our place in Hålanda is something of a "cold
hole". In this early movie of the Common Cranes (tranor) that nest
not far away, you can see the calling bird's breath condensing in the
chilly morning air. Hålanda, Sweden June 18 2010, Canon HV-20 at maximum
zoom and with DM-50 mic (I think), from our window.
In late January 2011. Science writer Torgny
Nordin and I were in Geneva to interview the head of the Botanical Garden,
Adelaide Stork. For context see http://captainmnemo.se/audiovisual/segelberg.html#Geneva
The icy pavement along Lake Geneva was difficult to walk on, but it was
worth while because of all the wintering birds. You here see (in
chronological order) an adult Great Crested Grebe
an Eurasian Coot
(sothöna), a young Great Crested Grebe, a female
(storskrake), a bad-tempered Red-crested pochard
(rödhuvad dykand), the female Goosander again, a male Goosander, and
finally a Grey Wagtail
(forsärla). Camera: handheld Canon HV-20,
partly with wide angle or tele converter lenses, and with DM-50
microphone. Some image stabilization done as well as some noise filtering
to Sweden. Here a long-distance shot of Ring Ouzel
(Swedish: Ringtrast) in its typical habitat. Storådörren, Härjedalen,
mid-June 2011. Canon HV-20 with Canon TLH43 Tele Converter Lens – not as
good as the wide angle one – and Canon DM-50 microphone. Windy (noisy)
conditions. – A lot more from Storådörren below!
Willow warbler (lövsångare), an
early attempt in June 2011. XL-H1A with standard 20x zoom lens and inbuilt
mic. Höga, Hålanda, Sweden. There are several more willow warbers below.
(svarthätta), Steninge, Halland July 2011. Canon XL-H1A, original lens
& inbuilt mic, some filtering with Izotope RX. I am not extremely
proud of this video but have not been able to capture this species better
since then. At least you get some idea of its song.
The year of 2011 was a great "lemming year"
in the Swedish mountains, good for the owls. The long-tailed jaegers
(fjällabb, Stercorarius longicaudus) were also abundant. A couple of
them nested near our camp in Storådörren, Härjedalen in early August 2011,
and they watched us closely when we were packing to leave. XL-H1A,
standard 20x zoom lens.
common cranes (tranor). This short clip is part of the first
rcording I made with the XH-A1s and a specially designed mount for this
camera together with the Telinga parabola. From 0:03 it shows how well the
parabola picks out the chatting of two flying tranes at quite a distance,
in the midst of sounds from thousands other birds and a host of people
standing very close to the photographer and talking aloud.
Pied Flycatcher (svartvit flugsnappare) presenting some
variations on his characteristic melody. Hålanda, 4 May 2012. In the
audience: a tree pipit (trädpiplärka). Camera: XL-H1A, mainly
inbuilt optics but one scene with Canon FD 100–300 mm zoom lens. Sound:
Telinga Pro 5 with Stereo DAT mic.
Song thrush (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
parabola with stereo DAT mic, recorded on the HDV tape.
Whitethroat, May 28, 2012, Hålanda. The Swedish name Törnsångare
(Thorn singer) is really fitting! The sequence ends with a meadow
pipit (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.
Next follow three movies/clips from a trip
to Storådörren, Härjedalen, Sweden in June 2012. I hoped to find singing bluethroats
(blåhakar, Luscinia svecia), and was not disappointed. The second night
the tent stood in the middle of their playground. They seemed not to
bother, and gave me many examples of their remarcable sound repertoire.
(blåhake som imiterar). A bluethroat trying to
imitate a brambling (bergfink) (heard initially). At the fourth or fifth
attempt he hits the keynote but the ring is still not perfect. See the
sonogram below the clip. Do the final shouts express satisfaction or
dissatisfaction? Storådörren, Härjedalen around June 10, 2012. Video:
Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD 100-300 mm lens. Sound: Telinga Pro 5 with
stereo DAT mic,
Blue bubbles. Storådörren,
Härjedalen early June 2012. 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 real cuckoo, (very faintly) a willow warbler and a
reed bunting, and finally (more close) some very real mosquitos. Camera:
Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD 100-300mm. Sound: Telinga Pro V with Stereo DAT
mic, recorded directly on the film. Running sonogram created with Izotope
RXII and Debut.
Here is a longer bluethroat movie.
Or maybe rather: a collection of clips from my trip to Storådörren,
Härjedalen, Sweden in June 2012. Camera: Canon XL-H1A with standard 20x
zoom/Canon FD 100-300mm. Sound: Telinga Pro V with Stereo DAT mic,
recorded directly on the film.
Then back to home. Here is a family of Eurasian
(lärkfalkar). 14 August 2012, Hålanda, Sweden.
Camera: First sequences Canon XH-A1s, then XL-H1A with Canon FD 100-300
lens, Telinga Pro V with Stereo DAT mic. See also below (2014
the evening of August 14, 2012, a shorted-eared owl kindly chose to hunt
near our house in Hålanda. I used the XL-H1A and a 100-300 mm Canon FD
lens to capture the feeling of its flight. Some digital zoom was added to
the first part.
Barn swallows (ladusvalor). "Our"
beloved barnswallows in Hålanda, May and August 2012. Camera: Canon HV-20
(singing swallow), XH-A1s (first feeding clip), XL-H1A with Canon FD
100-300 mm (the rest). No sound during the first seconds. More barn
from the top of a fir, evening of 21 april 2013, Hålanda. Yes, a
favourite! And he was sitting still... Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD at an
equivalent focal length of 2.200 mm, Telinga Pro 5 parabole mic.
, with dynamic
Singing robin and the running sonogram of his song.
Hålanda, April 21 2013, late afternoon. In the background, among others, a
song thrush, the same as in the previous clip. Camera: Canon XL-H1A with
Canon FD 100-300mm. Sound: Telinga Pro V with Stereo DAT mic, recorded
directly on the film. Running sonogram created with Izotope RXII and
Debut. Note the very high frequencies (up to 20 KHz) used.
Next come two clips from a trip to Öland in
early May 2013: first a Spotted Flycatcher (grå flugsnappare). In
sharp contrast to his black-and-white cousin, the spotted flycatcher sings
in a very low voice. However, this recording is something of a mystery:
although the parabole is aimed at him, and you can see his throat moving,
it is very difficult to distinguish any song of his from the background.
It could be a case of "silent song" (see below), or he may have some
throat problem. Camera: XL-H1A with Canon FD 100-300mm lens. Sound:
Telinga Pro 5W with Stereo DAT mic. No filtering of either picture or
sound; the background "noise" is the sound of the sea east of Öland.
Then a Common Ringed Plover
strandpipare) taking a long and hopefully refreshing early May bath at the
west coast of Öland. Camera: Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD 100-300mm,
effective focal length 2.200 mm. Windy conditions. Sound: Telinga Pro 5
with stereo DAT microphone, unfiltered.
A white stork visited Båljen,
Hålanda on May 28, 2013 and stayed for a long while not far from our
house. As you can hear, the lapwings (tofsviporna) were rather upset by
its presence. The weather was rather cloudy but the sun shines through
just before it takes to its wings. Camera: First Canon XH-A1 with maximum
zoom, then Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD (100–)300 mm lens. Sound: inbuilt
The stork was still around next day according to our neighbours. Another
white stork was seen at Kinnekulle, around 100 km from here, on the same
two days. None of them had a ring. Since a strong wind had been blowing
from the East they probably belong to a Baltic population.
Then another willow
warbler (lövsångare, 1 June 2013, Stensjö Strand, Halland). A
blackbird sings too (see next clip). Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD 100-300 mm
lens. At this occasion the Telinga device was on service so the inbuilt
microphone was used (mono recording). This is why the blackbird completely
dominates the sound picture.
The Common Blackbird (koltrast) is
perhaps Sweden's most well known and most beloved songbird. Here it sings
against a background of other voices including a willow warbler
(lövsångare) and a thrush nightingale (näktergal). Listen as closely as
the blackbird does, and you will here them too! Steninge, Halland, June 1,
2013 around 20.00. Camera: Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD (100-)300 mm lens.
The inbuilt microphone (mono recording) was more than sufficient to catch
the blackbird's strong voice. Some noise filtering has been done.
Many clips and movies at my site are from
the famous resting place for birds, and bird watching place for others, Morup's
Tånge, in Halland at the Swedish West Coast. The pied
avocet (svenska: skärfläcka) plays a leading role in this little
movie from June 2, 2013. So does an anxious northern lapwing
(topsvipa). You can also see for example common redshanks
(rödbenor), a couple of common shelducks (gravänder) demonstrating
their own special rituals, and many Eurasian oystercatchers
(strandskator). Note in the third of the oystercatcher scenes how he/she
rinses the sandworms in water before eating them! Also, one European
golden plover (ljungpipare) and a few late migrants: two dunlins
(kärrsnäppor) and one little stint (småsnäppa).
Much more from Morup later. Next come a set
of fours clips from a visit to the equally famous Lake Tåkern on June
Spotted Redshanks (svartsnäppor),
evening of June 16, 2013. A very long distance take from Glanäs at Lake
Tåkern of four Spotted Redshanks; the fourth is seen at the end. They are
surely females resting on their way south, and were the first ones noted
here this summer. It is interesting to see that they actually swim, not
only walk on the bottom. Camera: Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD 100-300mm,
effective focal length 2.100 mm. Sound: Telinga Pro 5 with stereo DAT
microphone, unfiltered (and loud, beware!).
Common Teals (krickor) at Hof, lake
Tåkern, Östergötland, listening (?) to a Great Reed Warbler
(trastsångare), a Great Bittern (rördrom, twice) and a European
Reed Warbler (rörsångare, faint, at the end). Evening of June 17,
2013. Camera: Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD 100-300 mm, sound: Telinga Pro 5
with stereo DAT mic, some noise filtering.
In the next clip, the main character is not
seen. We hear a Great Bittern (rördrom), Hof, Lake Tåkern, evening
of June 17, 2013. Camera: Canon XL-H1A, sound: Telinga Pro 5 with stereo
DAT microphone, unfiltered. During the first ten+ seconds one can clearly
hear the inspirational phase, compare the sonogram! A Great Reed
Warbler (trastsångare) also makes itself heard a few times.
Why camera? Well, to convey the feeling... The bird that takes off
and lands at the end is not a bittern.
A Great Spotted Woodpecker (större
hackspett) feeding its young near Hof, Tåkern, Östergötland on June 17,
2013. Camera: Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD 100-300 mm, sound: Telinga Pro 5
with stereo DAT mic. A lot of traffic noise, unfiltered.
Now a scene from Jämtland, north of Härjedalen and actually in the
geographical middle of Sweden. It is a Common griffin
(enkelbeckasin), displaying from the top of a fir. I have not been able to
identify the sound at the end. Hästskotjärn, Vålådalen, June 26, 2013.
Camera: Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD 100-300 mm, sound: Telinga Pro 5 with
stereo DAT mic. Some noise filtering.
Let us visit Morup's Tånge again, 25 July
2013. An anxious adult redshank warns his/her three offspring
about my presence. Their sounds are also heard. Camera: Canon XL-H1A with
Canon FD 100-300mm, effective focal length 2.100 mm. It was quite windy.
Sound: Telinga Pro 5 with Telinga's small parabola and a stereo DAT mic.
At the same location and same occasion, 25
July 2013, two little stints (småsnäppor) fed together with
considerably larger birds. Camera: Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD 100-300mm,
regrettably no sound because I had problems with the equipment.
Then a too long sequence showing a couple of
Bar-tailed Godwits (myrspovar) feeding at Morups Tånge on July 25,
2013. The more strongly coloured male leaves at 0:20. Then one can see
that the wings do not have the white band characteristic of the
Black-tailed godwit, svenska: rödspov. Some more close pictures of the
female follow. Camera: Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD 100-300mm, effective
focal length 2.100 mm. Sound: Telinga Pro 5 with Telinga's small parabole
and a stereo DAT mic.
Back again for a moment to our home in
Hålanda, 28 july 2013, a year when the air cables for phone and
electricity were still in place. First you hear two adult kestrels (tornfalkar)
and see them perform some some air acrobatics (not easy to capture with
the big camera, Canon XL-H1A). Then two or three young on different parts
of the cables. The bird that leaves at 1'15 could be the third young or
the adult female.
More Halland: two redstarts
(rödstjärtar) in a garden in Steninge Kyrkby, Halland on 19 August 2013. I
am not sure of the age and sex of the birds, but tend to believe that it
is an adult female and a youngster. Can you tell? Canon XH-H1A with Canon
FD 100-300 mm tele zoom, inbuilt microphone. A longer redstart movie is
The coast of Halland in early autumn: a
scene from the little bay Glassvik in Steninge, also on 19 August 2013 but
late in the afternoon. A lot of shorebirds are seeking food in the heaps
of seaweed on the shore. In the first scene some of the actors present
themselves: two young Bar-tailed Godwits (myrspovar) and a young Red
Knot (kustsnäppa), then an adult Red Knot, a Sanderling
(sandlöpare) and a Common Sandpiper (drillsnäppa). The following
scenes are close-ups of these birds and some more species, including a Redshank
(rödbena), Herring Gulls (gråtrutar) and Black-Headed
Gulls (skrattmåsar). Last but not least a big Carrion Crow
(kråka) that really knows how to dig effectively in the seaweed heaps.
Camera: Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD 100-300mm, effective focal length 2.200
mm. Sound: Telinga Pro 5 with stereo DAT mic, unfiltered so some wind
More Hålanda: here a flock of young European
siskins (grönsiskor) feeding in a birch in our garden on a windy day,
August 20, 2013. I did not try to filter away the wind noise or the loud
sounds from nearby human activities. The fine, high-frequent sounds from
the siskins are still clearly audible. Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD 100–300
mm, Telinga Pro 5W with stereo DAT mic.
Then two resting Eurasian Curlews
(storspovar) at Morup's Tånge on September 5, 2013. Camera: Canon XL-H1A
with Canon FD 100-300mm, effective focal length 2.200 mm. Sound: Telinga
Pro 5 with stereo DAT mic.
Juvenile golden plovers (svenska:
ljungpipare) and grey plovers (kustpipare) can be quite difficult
to distinguish from each other. This also holds for adults in winter. Here
is first a juvenile golden plover at Morups Tånge, Halland on September 5,
2013. Then two young grey plovers at the same location on September 19.
Yes, the golden plover deserves it name! But in the shadow it, too, is
rather greyish. To help distinguish them, the golden has a more slender
bill than the grey plover. Also, the golden seems to be happy on land
while the two grey prefer the water. Camera: Canon XL-H1A with Canon
FD 100-300 mm lens. Sound: Telinga parabole and mic.
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
For (many!) more starlings, see below
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. Also compare 2019
Near the path from Vålådalen's Fjällstation
in Jämtland to Stensdalen, I have found a new favourite environment: the
stream Tvärån. Here are some inhabitants near the stream: a family
of Northern Wheatears (stenskvättor), and some higher up but not
so far away: two worried Golden Plovers (ljungpipare).
Mid-July 2014, camera: Canon XH-A1, Telinga mic.
15 August 2014: A young Hobby Falcon
(lärkfalk) in Hålanda, Sweden. In the beginning you hear the call of one
of its parents (or a sibling), and at 15" an adult falcon is seen flying
by. The family has a new nesting place beginning with 2013, cf
Buzzards (ormvråkar) with different
degrees of leucism (reducerad pigmentering) are sometimes called Börringe
buzzards (Börringevråkar). They happen to be common in and around Hålanda.
Here is one escaping from a crowd of Western Jackdaws (kajor) and
landing not far from our house. I have not tried to fix the distorted
sound associated with the slowmotion. 5 March 2015, Canon XL-H1A. More
clips of these guys to come!
From our window: A cosy chat between two
Eurasian Tree Sparrows (pilfinkar) accompanied by the strong voices
of two newly arrived Common Cranes (tranor). Hålanda, Sweden, 11 March
2015. Canon XL-H1A, standard zoom lens and inbuilt mic.
In 2015, science writer Torgny Nordin and I
made two excursions to Sicily and Rome. See the page for Project
On the top of Monte Dinamaro near the
straight of Messina in early May 2015, we had an interview with Sicilian
ornithologist and raptor specialist Andrea Corso, who among other things
told us about the illegal hunting of birds that still is going on in
Sicily. A lot of European Honey buzzards (bivråkar) were spotted
this day and you see some of them. The video has been edited using clips
from other parts of our excursion, so you also get a glimpse of bird
hunting according to the 4th century mosaics at the Villa Romana Casale in
Lago Pergusa in south central Sicily is an
important resting place for migratory birds. When Torgny Nordin and I
visited it in early May 2015, Torgny noted a flock of Black-necked
Grebes (svarthalsade doppingar). Camera: XL-H1A with original zoom
corresponding to 800 mm, some digital zoom briefly added. Sound: Telinga
Pro 5W with Stereo DAT mic. In this clip you can see many other, more
common birds and hear several, including a Common Blackbird
(koltrast), Great Reed Warblers (trastsångare) and European
Reed Warblers (rörsångare).
Back home: A little flock of broad-billed
sandpipers (myrsnäppa, Limicola falcinellus) at Morups Tånge,
Halland, on 26 May 2015. Canon XL-H1A, last part with Canon FD 100-300mm.
No sound because of the very windy condition.
June 12, 2015: A group of 4 pied avocets
(skärfläckor, Recurvirostra avosetta) gathering at the shore of
Morups Tånge, Halland. Camera: Canon XL-H1A with standard zoom lens and
maximum zoom corresponding to 800 mm. The image quality is suboptimal due
to the unusually bad "seeing" (a lot of heat movement in the air), some
digital zoom in the second half, and of course the long distance. But if I
had been closer the birds would not have been this undisturbed. The main
interest of the movie lies in the sound (with Telinga Pro 5W and Stereo
DAT mic). First you hear a loud ongoing "contact call", and then after
around 0:11 a number of the more familiar short calls. The middle of the
movie is dominated by a low contact call, but after around 0:45 there are
again a few "regular" calls.
On the same day, June 12 2015: A group of pied
avocets (skärfläckor) feeding and quarrelling in a stretch of
shallow water at Morups Tånge, Halland. Canon XL-H1A with standard lens;
in principle this is a continuous recording but some short parts of the
movie had to be cut out. Sound: Telinga Pro V with Stereo DAT mic, no
Again 12 June 2015: A Brent Goose
(sv. Prutgås) eating a favourite food, eelgrass (Zostera marina,
bandtång), at Morup's Tånge, Halland. Camera: Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD
(100–)300 mm lens corresponding to 1600 mm, varying quality due to bad
"seeing" conditions. Turn down the sound if you cannot stand the
There were few insects in the Swedish
mountains in spring/early summer 2015, and few passerine birds. I saw no
bluethroats at the entrance of Storådörren, cf 2012
above. But a beautiful little pond nearby hosted a couple of Red-breasted
(Mergus serrator, småskrakar, not seen here) and at least
one Wood sandpiper
, grönbena). Mid-June
2015, Canon XL-H1A, last part with Canon FD 100-300mm.
14 July 2015: A common
redshank (rödbena, Tringa totanus), obviously used to people, is
the main character in this sequence from Lake Hornborgasjön,
Västergötland. Canon XL-H1A, last part with Canon FD 100-300mm, sound:
A small artificial wetland not far from lake Hornborgasjön in
Västergötland turned out to be the home of beauty. After the graphical Eurasian
(sothöna, Fulica atra
) and its young, the
exotic-looking Horned Grebe
(svarthakedopping, Podiceps auritus)
appears, busy feeding its offspring. Which is not always easy... see the
part beginning at 0:58. 14 July 2015, Canon XL-H1A with Canon FD
in wind (buskskvätta),
Hålanda, 27 July 2015. This is just an ordinary whinchat filmed at quite a
distance, and it is not even singing. Camera: XL-H1A with Canon FD
100-300mm, sound: Telinga Pro 5 with stereo DAT mic. See also below, 2018
27 July 2015: A family of Red-backed
(törnskata, Lanius collurio) in our garden in Hålanda.
Camera: XL-H1A with Canon FD 100-300mm, sound: Telinga Pro 5 with stereo
Each year, we wait for the common crane
(trana) family that nests at the nearby Hålsjön to come and "present"
their offspring on the field close to our house in Hålanda. This year, as
several times before, there were two young cranes. 17 August 2015, Canon
XL-H1A, second part with Canon FD 100-300mm.
Then a movie from Rome, the first one with
the new camera. Very large flocks of starlings (starar) have been
called "murmurations of starlings", and here is indeed a murmur! In the
evening of November 3, 2015, hundreds of thousands of starling are seeking
night quartier in treetops near the Tiber (Rome). There is no big thought
behind the film composition; the sub-scenes simply follow one in their
correct order of time. The movie in full HD (1080p). Camera: Panasonic
GH4, sound: Telinga Pro V parabole with Stereo DAT mic. A lot of noise
from traffic and the large group of people watching.
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 here 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.
If the chaffinch
(sv: bofink) had
been a very rare bird it would have been world famous for its beauty. Now
it is Sweden's second commonest bird (after the willow warbler,
lövsångaren), but still one of the most beautiful. Here are three clips:
one silent young male filmed in late March 2016 (in our garden), one male
singing at Grönån, Hålanda April 2016 with several wellknown accompanying
voices, and finally one male calling its young in late May the same year.
The last one was filmed on the west coast of Öland; the sound from that
occasion is not what it should be due to my using the audio limiter on the
camera. I hope to be able to fix it later. Camera: GH4 with Olympus tele,
sound (the two later clips): Telinga Pro 5W with Stereo DAT mic.
Many song thrushes
(taltrastar) mainly talk and are fun
to listen to, but the one below has more of a singing, melodic voice.
Listen for imitations and tell me what you hear! Sound: Telinga Pro5W with
Stereo DAT mic. Some very short parts (in the order of at most a few
seconds) had to be cut out because of transient noise, marked by the video
transitions. Camera: Panasonic GH4 with Olympus zoom lens corresponding to
1600 mm. The light conditions were difficult and a HLG capable camera
would not have been out of place. Höga, Hålanda, evening of 7 May 2016.
Next another clip from early May 2016 in
Höga, Hålanda, featuring two common birds: a robin
one or two willow warblers
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 fir there. So,
this could well be an example of "whisper song" in heat.
Then the same, or another, robin
(rödhake) duelling with a blackcap (svarthätta, first 1/3) the
same morning. Camera: GH4 with Olympus tele, sound: Telinga Pro 5W with
Stereo DAT mic, some noise reduction with Izotope RXII was necessary
because of wind and surrounding agricultural activities. So the sound is
not perfect, also because the sound limiting function was turned on (which
causes slight distortions).
Below is a composition from two mornings at the western shore of
Hålsjön, Ale, Sweden on June 11-12, 2016. The main character is a singing
(rörsångare) – 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
(sävsparv) 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 another energetic European
Reed Warbler (rörsångare), now in Steninge, Halland on 22 June 2016,
08.30. You can also hear a skylark (sånglärka). Panasonic GH4,
Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200 tele lens with 2x extender, Telinga Pro V
with Stereo DAT mic. No audio filtering attempted.
Below at least seven young Barn Swallows
(ladusvalor) being fed by their parents in a maple on a windy day, 3
September 2016. Next day all the swallows were on their way to Africa.
Panasonic GH4 with Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200 tele lens + 2x
teleconverter (effective focal length 400–1600 mm), sound: Telinga pro 5W
with 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). The clips are from 2012–2014 but (this version
of) the composition from 2017.
In Grästorp, not far from Lake Vänern, the river Nossan forms a series of
waterfalls that previously powered a sawmill. Now the bridge at Forshall
is a well-known place for birding. I am planning a movie with birds from
Forshall; here are three clips intended to be used in it. First an adult
and a young Grey Wagtai
l (forsärla) on 17 May 2017. Camera:
Panasonic GH4 with Olympus tele lens. Sound: inbuilt microphone (I think).
The following two sequences are from the same
occasion, 17 May 2017. First you see two Common Sandpipers
(drillsnäppor) in what I think is a territorial fight. It seems that one
family lives at each side of the bridge at Forshall. At the end of the
sequence you see a member of the downstream family searching for food. For
an upstream inhabitant see next movie. Camera: Panasonic GH4 with Olympus
zoom lens, inbuilt microphone.
Then a common sandpiper seeking food in the white water upstreams of the
bridge at Forshall. Camera: Panasonic GH4 with Olympus tele zoom. Sound:
Telinga Pro 5W with Stereo DAT mic. Forshall, Grästorp's Community, 17 May
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
(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,
see the Mastersingers
A little later on the same morning and the same location, using the same
equipment, I got some close shots of a willow warbler
(lövsångare). 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 second part).
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
(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.
Now a few minutes of a singing Common
Blackbird (koltrast) in the morning of 18 June 2017 near Hålanda,
Sweden. You first see and hear a young Fieldfare (björktrast) who
has briefly borrowed the blackbirds' favourite twig. While the fieldfare
leaves you can hear the blackbird singing, and its sings while arriving at
the twig. Panasonic GH4 with Olympus tele zoom corresponding to 1600mm,
Telinga Pro 5W with Stereo DAT mic, no audio filtering, background sounds
from wind and a nearby creek remain. I like to think of the bird's
reaction around 1:17 as a protest against the car that just passed by. :-)
Blyth's Reed Warblers (Swedish:
busksångare) are rare guests in Sweden. In 2017, at least one of them –
most probably a couple – stayed a long time in Grästorp's community,
Western Sweden, and became something of a celebrity among ornithologists
and local people alike. The first short movie from my wife's and mine
visit there on June 27, 2017 shows the beautiful setting of our recording
of the warbler. It is close to the small church of Ås near Lake Vänern,
Västergötland. If you can, go there! Your hear the warbler singing at
least from around 0:18. Then you can see the Telinga parabola set for an
audio recording, and of course the recorder (this is a meta-movie). The
next movie was shot some 50 meters from here.
Below, then, are 5+ minutes of the
remarkable sound production of Blyth's Reed Warbler
recorded around 08:00 on June 27, 2017. Video: Panasonic GH4 and an
Olympus tele lens with focal length equivalent to 1600 mm. Sound: Telinga
Pro 5W with Stereo DAT microphone; a gentle noise filtering with Izotope
RXII has been applied to dampen the sound from the nearby stream.
The video is based on three parts of a continuous 15+ minutes recording,
from which the sections with any significant auditory or visual
disturbances were deleted. For pure sound recordings that partly overlap
with the movie but contain much more of the bird's song, see https://soundcloud.com/user-370092153/zoom0033-2
The local barn swallows gather before
leaving and have a lot to chat about. Hålanda, August 1st 2017, Panasonic
GH4 with Olympus tele zoom Telinga Pro 5W with Stereo DAT mic. What will
the barn swallows do when all air cables are taken down?
For a few days in late August 2017, four Black-tailed
Godwits (rödspovar, Limosa limosa ssp. islandica) rested
in Kärrtorp's Wetland near Falkenberg, Halland. You see them already in
the first wide angle scene together with several other birds, such as
three Grey Herons (gråhägrar) and two Wood Sandpipers
(grönbenor). There was a strong wind and some traffic and other noise, but
you can still hear the adult wood sandpiper talking to its children in a
later scene. Panasonic GH4 with Olympus tele, Telinga Pro 5W with Stereo
DAT mic. No image stabilization or sound filtering attempted.
The first video this year is from an
excursion to Sicily around May 1st. The Pied Avocet (skärfläcka)
has long legs but they are nothing compared to those of its close
relative, the Blackwinged Stilt (styltlöpare). Here is a very
short clip from between Trapani and Marsala on 1 May 2018. Panasonic GH4
with Olympus tele. Not an easy task since the bird moves fast and in
unforeseeable ways! More from this journey to come.
In the following collage you see some whinchats
(buskskvättor) in different seasons: first one just about to leave
Marettimo west of Sicily on 30 April 2018; then a family (I think) near
Hålanda in mid-June 2017 (where you also hear an osprey); then one singing
in our Hålanda garden in mid-June 2018. The first part from the latter
occasion, from 0:35 to 1:05, was recorded without the Telinga device, so
all the background "noise" from rural activities is heard too.
Finally one sitting on a thistle among high grass in August 2012, warning
its offspring – the sound that one so often hears in the right kind of
Then a bird that I have long wanted to film
and quite unexpectedly ran into during a walk in the mountains: A Gyr
falcon (Falco rusticolus, sv.: jaktfalk), most probably near its
nest, somewhere in northern Lappland in early July 2018. Camera: Handheld
Panasonic GH4 with Olympus M.Zuiko Pro 12-40/2.8 lens, distance 150–200 m.
The gyr falcon has a wing span of around 120 cm and is one of the fastest
fliers of all birds. The flight parts were filmed at an effective focal
length of 160 mm and upscaled with a factor of 2, so don't try to see the
movie at more than 720p. The inbuilt mic was used without any wind shield,
and the wind noise regrettably makes it impossible to hear the bird's
characteristic call on the video.
And now, a true rarity. This little beauty
visited Hålanda on August 7–8, 2018. In the background of the first scene:
Hålsjön. My wife and I first thought it was a Snow Goose (snögås,
blå form) and reported it as such, but we have since then learnt that it
is a Snow Goose x Bar-headed Goose hybrid (hybrid mellan snögås
Our garden i Hålanda on 6 February 2019: A
singing female bullfinch (sv: domherre). It could perhaps be
called "whisper song" (sv: visksång). It is said that she and her male
only sing for each other. Camera: Panasonic GH4 with Olympus zoom lens
corresponding to 1600 mm. Sound: Roede Videomic pro, some noise removal
with Izotope RXII.
Morups Tånge, Halland, 1 of March 2019:
Still ice at the shore but the first migrants have already arrived: three
Common Ringed Plovers (större strandpipare) and one Eurasian
Oystercatcher (strandskata). Panasonic GH4, Olympus tele, sound:
Roede Videomic Pro (I believe).
The bigger cousin of the song thrush, the Mistle
Thrush (dubbeltrast) has a beautiful voice which reminds one of both
a blackbird and a song thrush. Here is one singing accompanied by among
others a chaffinch (bofink), a willow warbler (lövsångare,
a few appearances), a common wood pigeon (ringduva), a blackbird
(koltrast), and possibly another mistle trush and/or a song thrush
(taltrast). Please tell me what you hear! Hålanda, Sweden on 28 April 2019
around 8.30 PM, while the sun is setting. Camera: Panasonic GH4 with
Olympus zoom lens corresponding to 1600 mm. Sound: Telinga Pro V with
windscreen, Stereo DAT mic, no filtering. The low background "noise" apart
from wind is nearby running water.
In the morning of 4 June 2019, some 60–100
young starlings (starar) waited for their parents to feed them in
the trees close to our house in Hålanda. Although the whole event is very
social – in line with the general nature of starlings – it seems that the
adult birds only feed their own offspring. Several times you can see them
searching for the right mouths to fill. How they manage to find them is
not obvious! – It is a warm day and when your stomach is full, it is good
to rest… Camera: Panasonic GH5 with Panasonic Leica 12–60 mm lens. Some
digital zoom here and there, so the resolution is not full HD all the way.
P.S. "Bamba" is an old Swedish name for school lunch.
The following movie features two Marsh
(kärrsångare), possibly a couple, singing at the same
time. Hålanda 19 June 2019, 5:20–5:53. For a background and the reasons
why I think they are a couple, see https://www.xeno-canto.org/481968
You first hear one bird singing hidden in a dense shrub. At 0:37 I start
panning towards the right. Around 0:50 you begin to hear another marsh
warbler and at 1 min it appears at the top of a small shrub. From 1:05 it
produces a series of wonderful sounds including many imitations. The part
after 1:25 was shot some 15–20 minutes later. Panasonic GH4, first part
with the usual Olympus zoom, last part with an old but good Canon 400 mm
1:5.6 + 1.4x extender, corresponding to 2.200 mm. Sound: Telinga Pro5W
with Stereo DAT mic, recorded directly on the film. The slight out-of-sync
is due to the distance. A lot of morning traffic, but no filtering except
some volume reduction in the first part.
Also compare the second movie from 2014
where a marsh
warbler sings from the same shrub.
After 2011 (see above
there has not been any real "lemming year" (lämmelår) in the
Härjedalen-Jämtland mountains. When lemmings and other rodents are scarce,
as in 2019, most birds of prey leave the high mountain valleys and go
south again. On 25 June 2019, dozens of Long-tailed Jaegers
(fjällabbar) had therefore gathered on the plateau of Flatruet,
Härjedalen, before leaving the area. Here are some of them. Camera:
handheld Panasonic GH5 with Panasonic-Leica 12–60 mm zoom lens, a little
image stabilization added afterwards.
It is usually very difficult to film swifts
(tornseglare), but when they get the idea of flying around your house on
the same track again and again you have your chance. From our doorway,
Hålanda 29 July 2019. The show lasted for around an hour, and here are 2
minutes of it. Camera: Panasonic GH5 with Leica Panasonic 12–60 mm lens,
Here some shorebirds waiting to go south in
Beijershamn, Öland on 15 August 2019: a Wood Sandpiper
(sv: Grönbena), five Black-Tailed Godwits (rödspovar)
and five Common Snipes (enkelbeckasiner). The godwits
belong to the most common subspecies (ssp. limosa); cf the Islandic kind
seen in the sequence from Halland, August 2017. Camera: Panasonic GH5 with
Leica-Panasonic 20–60 and 50–200 mm lenses; close-ups with Canon 400/5.6
and 1.4 x extender, focal length corresponding to 2.240 mm. The cows
present did not seem to appreciate that a group of visitors made loud
noises when arriving. And the weather became dramatic... best seen in
Finally another collage from Morup's Tånge,
late afternoon of 24 August 2019. Among others, some Oystercatchers
(strandskator), Redshanks (rödbenor), Black-Headed
Gulls (skrattmåsar), young Red Knots
(kustsnäppor), a few Eurasian Curlews (storspovar), a Bartailed
Godwit (myrspov) – check the difference in size! – and a Brent
Goose (prutgås) can be seen feeding, all in their own way.
Panasonic GH5 with Panasonic Leica 12–60 and 50–200 mm, also Canon 400 mm
1:5.6 + 1.4x extender. Filmed in 10 bits colour, but this copy converted
to 8 bits ProRes 422 for ease of editing in FCP7. No Telinga parabola this