A swarm of 10,000 geese

A couple of weeks ago I headed out to rural Norfolk with fellow sound designer and recordist Daan Hendirks (http://daanhendriks.co.uk/) with the intention of capturing the sound of the Grey seal pups which are raised for their first six weeks of life in the sand dunes at various points along the Norfolk coast. Most notably at Horsey and at Blakeney point. First thing on day one we headed out to Horsey where just two weeks earlier Daan had been and recorded freely among the hundreds of pups (which you can read about and listen to on his site here: http://daanhendriks.co.uk/blog/winter-2012-grey-seal-pups). It very quickly became apparent that in just these couple of weeks the demographic had changed immensely and in fact we found just one lonesome pup still among the dunes


We fairly quickly decided to abandon Horsey as although there were quite a few adults and juveniles at the water’s edge singing quite beautifully the conditions were not good and we could not really get close enough. We learned later that the best way to get close to the seals when they are hauled out in this way is to approach by water otherwise they simply dive into the sea and are gone. We’ll have to go back with a boat some time! We moved onto Blakeney and after a lunch of locally picked Morston mussels set out on a long walk along the spit. It didn’t take long for me to wish I had travelled a little lighter, particularly as I was carrying everything over my shoulder in a Lowepro classified 250AW (including 744, SQN 4s, various mics, 50m of xlr cables and the Collins bird guide). Unfortunately we ran out of daylight before we could reach the seal haul out spot which was a lot further than we had counted on! I did manage to get a nice few minutes of desolate salt marsh atmosphere though:



Unperturbed by the lack of acquiring our ‘targets’ we did a little research in the hotel bar and found another spectacle which looked promising, the dawn flight of thousands of pink-footed geese as the they leave their night time roosts in the RSPB reserve at Snettisham.


The following are a couple of recordings taken from the dawn chorus period (which was about 6:00AM to 7:30AM). All the sounds were recorded onto my Sound Devices 744 with a pair of Sennheiser 8040s in an ORTF arrangement.


Finally we stopped off on the way home at WWT Welney (
http://www.wwt.org.uk/visit/welney/) and I took this nice recording of some Bewick’s swans as they were being fed. This time I was recording to my 744 via an SQN 4s using an old T-powered Sennheiser 416.