The Wildlife Sound Recording Society’s (WSRS) annual sound recording competition has been won by Martin Garnett, a former Forest Ranger and professional ornithologist, for his recording entitled Black Grouse. The winning recording captures the magical bubbling calls of three blackcock, dancing and sparring as they compete to attract female birds one early morning at their remarkable courtship gathering known as a “lek”.
Martin has put his win down to having many years’ experience of monitoring Black Grouse leks in Wales as part of his job and, for the winning recording, had spent months researching the site along with his wife Annie.
Martin tells of the build up to the winning recording:
“As Black Grouse are quite rare and susceptible to disturbance, we took special care not to disturb them at all. To begin with our modus operandi was to leave unattended recorders at two leks and observe the birds from a distance, returning to pick up the recorders after the birds had left. This was very hit and miss, although by trial and error we did achieve some reasonable recordings.
"Later I found that I could use the car as a hide near one lek and run a 70m cable to the mics. This was carried out at night time before the birds arrived. The grouse were not at all disturbed by this, arriving, displaying and leaving the lek as normal. Over three separate mornings I experimented with finding the best position and orientation for the mics, which I partly concealed in a clump of rushes to one side of the lek.
“The day of the recording, the weather was perfect and everything worked as planned. The mics were placed and I was in position well before the first birds arrived. The birds displayed right in front of the mics, the closest only a few feet away! Most importantly now I had control of the recorder and preamp and could monitor and change recording settings. I also had a good view of most of the action.
“The recording was helped by it being one of the driest Aprils on record (2011) – the fast flowing mountain river, which was about 150m away from the lek site was nearly dry and is hardly audible on the recording. This was also the most active time of year at the lek, with females coming to the site on most days. The behaviour of the males was much more animated when females were around!”
Chairman of the WSRS, Alan Burbidge commented "Martin's recording gives a fantastic sound picture of the Black Grouse lek: building to a crescendo and full of action. Martin's attention to detail, his background field work as well as the expert field craft used, make this recording a worthy overall winner of the annual WSRS competition. Martin's high quality recording, and those of the other outstanding class winners in the competition are testament not only to the skills of the individual recordists, but to the sharing of expertise and knowledge that runs through the veins of WSRS." website
In addition to being the custodian of the coveted Silver Fox trophy for a year, Martin will also receive a DPA SMK4060 Stereo Miniature Microphone Kit courtesy of WSRS competition sponsor , Sound Network.
“Sound Network Ltd is proud to maintain its continued support of the Wildlife Sound Recording Society and donating the prize for the “Silver Fox Award” for the 6th consecutive year. The Society’s energy and enthusiasm to record and archive wildlife sound as faithfully as possible is a unique contribution to the audio industry and a valuable social record for the future.” Said Ralph Dunlop, Sound Network co-founder.
Martin has been a member of the WSRS since 2008 and had this to say about his membership:
“Since joining the WSRS, I have benefited greatly from the generous and unstinting advice from the more experienced members of the society about the equipment and techniques needed to succeed with wildlife sound recording. I have found the WSRS website full of useful guidance and the forum a great place to ask questions and get answers. I have found attending meetings and workshops another excellent way of gaining information.”
Note to Editors:
1. The Wildlife Sound Recording Society (WSRS), formed in 1968 is a thriving global society catering for the needs of amateur and professional wildlife sound recordists. Our core objectives are to champion the production of high quality wildlife sound recordings and, through our members, make resources available for bioacoustics research and wildlife films and radio programmes. The Society holds regular field and workshop meetings in the UK to enable not only the exchange of ideas and skills but to build a community of active sound recordists. We welcome anyone to the society who is interested in recording and listening to the sounds of nature. Membership can be applied for online at website
2. Logo images are available from downloads
3. Sound Network Ltd. was established 18 years ago by Pete Wandless and Ralph Dunlop who both, previously, had long careers in the audio industry. Pete had been sales manager at SSL, Focusrite and Fairlight and Ralph had been European sales manager at Bruel & Kjaer, the original manufacturers of, what we now know as, DPA microphones, and has been associated with the brand for over 25 years. Sound Network Ltd also distribute Acoustic Energy speakers, Smart signal processors, Rycote windscreens and Linear Acoustic digital audio processing. www.soundnetwork.co.uk
4. For more information about the WSRS contact Alan Burbidge (Chairman WSRS) on firstname.lastname@example.org
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