Monday, 6 April 2020

To noc-mig, or naked noc-mig?

#BWKM0 ND&B garden challenge
DAY 18

There has been quite a bit of discussion recently about the merits of 'noc-migging'. For those of you who are not familiar with this term, it basically applies to the listening of bird calls as they pass over a site overnight, during the hours of darkness. For a number of years now an enterprising band of birders have been recording these sessions (via a microphone and recording device) and then downloading the digitalised sounds onto a computer where the gathered calls can be analysed with bespoke software. It is fair to say that our collective knowledge of bird calls, and which species are choosing to fly over us at night, has been revolutionised. Migration patterns, the part that weather is playing on the directions the birds are taking and species status are all being studied in the process.

Now. What is not up for discussion is the fact that if you run such a setup at home, you can happily state that the species that you have identified from your recordings are species that have been proven to fly over your garden. But gadgets have proved this, not you. Those same calls, heard with your own ear, in real time, would have been. Does that matter? No, not to me, anyway. But some birders are not as charitable, and I can see their point. They argue that, as far as listing purposes go, they should not be gifted to the observer who switched the recorder on. After all, would you tick a sound that was audible while you were asleep, or not even at home at all.

I've been tempted to buy a setup. You can get a decent one for under £100. But... there is a way of experiencing the wonders of night time migration without having to do so. It was Gavin H who coined the phrase 'naked noc-mig'. You basically sit outside and listen. You do need to know your bird calls and you only get one chance. No sound recordings will be available to analyse after the event. No hard proof will be in your possession to get that tricky record accepted. Your ears will not be as powerful and have the superior filtering capabilities of a decent microphone. And whilst it can take just 30-45 minutes to run through a night-time's worth of recording, it will take the 'naked noc-migger', well, a night-time.

My strategy? Visit that wonderful web-site Xeno-canto and listen to all the waders and wildfowl calls (many labelled as nocturnal recordings). Take in a few other species that you might possibly hear (such as Coot, Moorhen, Water Rail, Little Grebe) and a few more that you might be lucky enough to (Bittern, Ortolan Bunting). Memorise them. Pick still, overcast evenings. Hope that background noise is at a minimum. And be very, very, patient. It WILL pay off. And when you hear that flock of Common Scoter or that Oystercatcher calling above you, the hair's will stand up on the back of your neck.

Those that do use recording equipment will gather a much fuller and more accurate picture of what is happening in the night skies above us. Us ‘naked noc-miggers’ will only scratch the surface. There is room for both of us, whichever side you wish to pick.

OUR COMBINED TOTAL IS 141 SPECIES   We still seem to be missing Pochard, Tufted Duck, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Kingfisher.

Today's additions are : Grey Plover (Martin C), Little Gull (Matt P), House Martin (Ed S), Whitethroat (Wes A)


No new entries today

Our 'garden collective' stands at 55.


Garden firsts

Matt P (Amberley, West Sussex) - Little Gull
Ed S (Farncombe, Surrey) - Lapwing
Robin S (Cranleigh, Surrey) - Egyptian Goose
Tony B (Woodford, London) - Coot
Mike P (Malling, Kent) - Ring-necked Parakeet
Josephine S (Leatherhead, Surrey) - Lesser Black-backed Gull
Mark N (Stutton, Suffolk) - Moorhen

There have now been 95 garden firsts across the competition.


How are we getting on?
Alphabetical order by first name. The first figure is the garden score as on March 20th. The second is since then (as up to date as I am aware).

Arjun D (Wallington, Surrey) - 74/55; Benno W (Goodnestone, Kent) xx/29;
Bernard B (Ruckinge, Kent) 107/50; Bob S (Worcester Park, Surrey) 86/29;
Callum M (Hemel Hempstead, Herts) 64/xx; Cheech A (Langley Vale, Surrey) xx/34;
Dave B (Chatham Islands, Pacific Ocean) 30/18; Dave P (Shoreham, West Sussex) - 55/38;
David S (West Raynham, Norfolk) - 87/45; Debbie S (Portland, Dorset) 155/34; 
Dylan W (Thanet, Kent) 111/43; Ed S (Farncombe, Surrey) - 79/73;
Gavin H (Bridport, Dorset) xx/35; Geoff B (Chessington, Surrey) 69/27; 
Gill H (Tenterden, Kent) 60/24; Gordon H (Redhill, Surrey) 80/39; 
Ian K (Leigh, Surrey) 62/32; Ian S (Sidcup, Kent) - 113/44;
Ian W (Merton Park, London) 86/34; Isaiah R (New Malden, London) 76/42;
John P (Banstead, Surrey) xx/xx; Jono L (Wanstead, London) 83/54;
Josephine S (Leatherhead, Surrey) 40/32; Justin T (Charmouth, Dorset) 59/xx;
Mark D (Dorking, Surrey) 59/50; Mark H (Littlestone, Kent) 135/67:
Mark N (Stutton, Suffolk) - 77/60; Martin C (Lydd, Kent) 140/70;
Mathew B (Wrotham, Kent) - 33/42; Matt P (Pulborough, West Sussex) 126/79;
Michael D (Craster, Northumberland) 106/48; Mike P (Malling, Kent) 70/53;
Mike R (Battle, East Sussex) 97/41; Oscar D (Chiswick, London) - 67/51;
Paul D (London) 84/35; Pete B (Shadoxhurst, Kent) 101/43;
Phil B (Ramsgate, Kent) 54/27; Rebecca G (Balham, London) xx/7;
Reuben B (Tufnell Park, London) - 45/41; Richard F (Pinner, London) 63/35;
Richard P (Charmouth, Dorset) - 101/60Robin S (Cranleigh, Surrey) - 101/49;
Sam B (Enniskeane, Cork) - 67/55; Seamus E (Thornton Cleveleys, Lancs) - 67/28;
Sean M (Pinner, London) - 50/36; Seth G (Uig, Skye) 64/42;
Stephen R (Harrogate, Yorks) 66/35; Steve C (Guildford, Surrey) 66/36; 
Steve G (Banstead, Surrey) - 92/60; Steve T (Ewell, Surrey) 59/33;
Stewart S (Howick, Northumberland) 113/50; Sy W (Aston Clinton, Bucks) - xx/22;
Tony B (Woodford, London) 69/45; Wes A (Capel, Surrey) - 94/71


Gill Hollamby said...

I’m not on the list ��

Steve Gale said...

You are Gill

Gavin Haig said...

Well Steve, a very topical post. And one to which I am bound to refer in the not-too-distant future. Why? Because a package is arriving later this month, and when it gets here I'm going to do a 'Bob Dylan at Newport 1965' thing...

Steve Gale said...

JUDAS! as I believe the man in the audience shouted...

Derek Faulkner said...

To which Dylan replied "I don't believe you"

Justin Tunstall said...

A paltry 59/29 from my Charmouth garden. Nothing new - yet!

Dave Boyle said...

That was Manchester, not Newport!

Gavin Haig said...

Oh dear, I've overreached a bit with the Dylan reference! Not being a fan I've probably fallen into the trap of inadequate research leading to woeful inaccuracy. Sorry, Dylanites. ;)

Anyway, I guess the analogy was clear... :)

Derek Faulkner said...

Bob Dylan was at Newport in 1965 - Newport in America, where he shocked everybody with an electric backing group. I first saw Dylan at the Royal Albert Hall in May 1966.

Gibster said...

Two more for me, please Steve - Gannet and LBBGull at Uig which puts me on 44.

Michael Drage said...

Redshank and blackcap creep my total to 51 today

Steve Gale said...

Thanks for all the records and banter!