Advice on audio recording?

Hi folks,

Anyone into recording audio of birds?

I've seen a lot of reports recently about the popularity of nocturnal migration recordings (shortened to 'nocmig'). Several mentions in my local area's email group, and articles about nocmig on the BTO and Rare Bird Alert sites, have peaked my interest.

I've also liked watching Gary Moore's segments on the latest Springwatch / Winterwatch / Autumnwatch BBC programmes. His parabolic reflector, shotgun microphone, and bag full for recording equipment makes this area of the hobby look exciting. Like another realm that's free to explore. 

Does anyone have links to any resources, or any recommendations on beginner's equipment for someone interested in getting involved in recording wildlife? 

I've got a little knowledge of recording (studying music technology at college years ago) but haven't involved myself in the activity since.


  • Hi, Jack

     Do you use a camera with video function and a plug for an external mic?

    For a reasonably cheap way of recording you could try the following.

    I use a Rode Video Mic Pro. (Review HERE)

    I also got a Dead Cat filter for it as well. This helps with wind noise but doesn’t eliminate it completely (more so at +20dB).

    The mic runs off a 9v battery which lasts for ages (if you remember to switch the mic off when not in use). There’s an LED on the mic which shows when it’s on, so it helps remind you switch it off.

    It also has a built in shock mount and hot shoe mount, and it has a super-cardioid pattern which helps eliminate noise from the sides and behind. So while not 100% directional, it does mostly pick up what it’s pointed at. It's also very lightweight.

    There a high pass filter switch (cutting out anything below 80Hz), some help if you maybe have a road nearby with traffic passing. It also has a -10dB (for really loud sources) & a +20dB switch which really helps boost volume levels for birds etc.

    When I attach it to the camera, once in video mode, I reduce the camera’s internal volume to about 15-20% and then switch the mic to +20dB. This really helps to reduce background hiss, and also gives a good level of volume at the same time.

    A downside I found was that the mic picks up the sound of the focus system on the camera (again more so at +20dB), so I got past this by buying a small Gorrilapod tripod and an extension lead. This lets me get the mic off camera and does away with any handling noise. Also the tripod can be attached to almost anything and pointed wherever you want.

    One I download the video from the camera I play it back and record it with a free screen capture program (iSpring free cam). Once the screen capture is saved, if you open the file, you’ll find that the audio is also saved as am MP3 file which can then be taken into any audio suite and edited.


    I hope this may be of interest to you.

    This video was recorded on my DSLR with the Video mic. The birds were quite close, but given decent conditions, good audio recordings can be made with this method.