Northern Mockingbird

Many birds mimic others, In North America the Northern Mockingbird is the champion of all. I have recorded many birds that mimic others including the Lyrebird in Australia, African Greys and Macaws but the sound of the Northern Mockingbird in the morning dawn chorus has a special feel to it as night turns to dawn.

The great Mimickers

Northern Mockingbird

Recorder: SD 722
Microphones: SASS MKH 20/20
Tripod mounted
Sample rate: 44.1k 24 bit
Location: Big Bend NP. Texas.
Weather: Partly Cloudy
Temp 75f
Recordist: Martyn Stewart

Cliff Swallow

As summer passes for another year, these little fellows go with it. Off to more southern warmer parts where the insects are abundant. This is the sound of one individual making a “rubbing on a balloon” sound while clinging to the side of a cliff-face. I was there at the right time with the right gear, so to speak. The song is lacking variety and somewhat interest but this captures what i wanted none-the-less.. (wow that rhymed)

This bird averages 13 cm (5 inches) long with a tiny bill. The adult Cliff Swallow has an iridescent blue back and crown, brown wings and tail, and buff rump. The nape and forehead are white. The underparts are white except for a red face. The tail is square-ended.
Young birds are essentially brown above and whitish below, except for the buff rump and dark face. The only confusion species is the closely related Cave Swallow, which is richer in colour and has a cinnamon rump and forehead.
Like all swallows and martins, Cliff Swallows subsist primarily on a diet of insects which are caught in flight. (Info Wikipedia)


Recorder: SD 722
Microphone: Telinga DAT
Sample/Bitrate: 44.1k 24 bit
Location: Portal, Arizona
Recordist: Martyn Stewart
Weather: Partly Cloudy
Temp: 68f

© martyn stewart 2010


I had the pleasure of recording and filming the release of 11 young Raccoons back into the environment. PAWS is an animal rescue and rehabilitation organization based in Lynnwood WA. PAWS is a champion for animals—rehabilitating injured and orphaned wildlife. Since the PAWS Wildlife Center opened in 1981, PAWS has cared for more than 100,000 wild animals. Their primary goal is to rehabilitate sick, injured and orphaned wildlife, restore them to full health and return them to the wild as functioning members of their wild population. I was first invited to the capture of these raccoons at the facility ready for release, totally contrasting sounds were evident here, the squeals when they were being handled and the sounds of contentment on their release. My special thanks for giving me the privilege to witness these animals goes to Kevin Mack, the naturalist that works at PAWS.

Raccoon release

Free at last!

Here I have a short video and 2 sound-bytes. The first sound-byte is that of the trilling, churring sounds and the 2nd that of the squeals.

The first sound-byte is that of the trilling

Next is the sound of the squeals

Camera: Sony NXCAM
Recorder: SD 722
Microphones: MKH 40/30
Tripod Mounted with windjammer
Weather: Partly cloudy
Recordist: Martyn Stewart
Camera: Martyn Stewart

Wood Ducks galore

This morning I had the pleasure of meeting Bob Kothenbeutel as his home in Woodinville, WA.
Every September the wood ducks return to his back yard pond – probably because he provides feed for them twice a day (mixture of whole wheat and gamebird pellets). On Sept. first there were 6 but the number has grown to 125 -150! They stream in in small groups just as it begins to get light in the morning, eat their breakfast, lounge around all day and then leave in the evening after their dinner. They never get very tame and always flush when he takes out the feed. After circling a few times they come raining back to the pond in a fashion that makes it too hard to count them. It is quite a spectacle. Even though they are devouring 150 lbs of feed each week he never gets tired of watching them. They even invade his bird feeder which is near his deck, and some have taken a liking to suet. There is a large number of juveniles and the mature drakes are now in full breeding plumage.

This is a recording from first light this morning starting from around 07:00am.

It is always best to let the player buffer beforehand….

copyright Mike Hamilton

Wood Duck

Recorder: SD 722
Microphones: MKH 40/30
Sample/bitrate: 44.1k 24 bit
Tripod mounted
Rycote windjammer
Wood duck
Trumpeter swan
American crow
Weather:Partly cloudy
Temp: 54f
Recordist: Martyn Stewart

Vaux’s swifts

The vaux’s swift is found mainly on the west of North America, measuring around 4.5″ around this time of year they can be found in mass flocks at night as they gather to roost. The swift has found an ideal roosting spot in man made chimneys,

© Kevin Mack


Monroe WA has just that, you can get over 26,000 of these birds roosting in the chimney on occasions all tightly snugged together. These birds are on their migratory path to Central America and Venezuela and stop off on the way here in Monroe. The sound and video that follows are from the night of September 12th, The night was partly cloudy and cool but it still brought out a sizable flock for us to witness.

Thank you to Kevin Mack for the picture and Pilchuck Audubon for the use of some video in the chimney.

The following audio can be listened to by clicking your mouse anywhere along the wave player, select any area on the player with your mouse.

Geek notes
Vaux swifts monroe

Location: Monroe
Date: 2010-09-12
State: WA

Description: the migration of vaux swifts roosting in a chimney stack

Habitat: City
VoxType: calls
Category: soundscape

Recorder: SD 788t
Mics: sennheiser mkh 40/30-Telinga DAT
Sample rate: 44.1k 24 bit
Microphone pattern: MS stereo

Anthrophony: constant traffic
Biophony: Vaux swift

Weather: overcast
Temp: 66f
Humidity: 81%
Wind: 4mph
GPS: N47.51’9″,W121.58’48 

Recordist: Martyn Stewart

Notes: inserted -30 db tone at beginning of the recording/ Mic suspension with Rycote windjammer and gitzo tripod/

The Ovenbird

This is one of those birds that when you record it, you think the gain control is not working on your recorder until you find out the bird uses most of its energy at the end of the song!
This is such a powerful singer for one so little..
The main song of the Ovenbird is a series of strident, relatively low-pitched, bisyallabic motives repeated without pause about eight times and increasing in volume.
This was recorded in the north woods while walking with the black bears there. All around you are these amazing little birds singing their hearts out.

Jay Jay up a tree for a change

The following audio player shows various wave patterns that you can select at any time by clicking the mouse on any part of the player to select the song.
Please let the whole song buffer first.

Recordist: Martyn Stewart
Recorder: SD 788T
Microphone: Telinga stereo DAT
Location: Ely, North Woods. MN

Honey Bee

Keeping bees is fun and good for the environment. With many chemicals on our planet now, the bees have taken a hammering. Bees pollinate 80% of our flowers so you know how important bees are to us. Today i went out to meet a bee keeper by the name of Daniel Sullivan who showed me around his hives and allowed me to capture a short film and soundscape for your enjoyment.

A picture showing you the positioning of various bees in a hive.

Honey bee hive.

sound recording
These sounds are from two DPA microphones that were placed at the entrance to the hives. You can hear the change in pitch as each bee arrives to deposit their pollen. Guard bees make sure that there are no impostors or other pillaging bees trying to steel the honey from the hive..
I used 5 different microphones. Outside the Hive i have an MKH 40/30 set-up to record the ambient around the hives and inside i dropped a DPA hydrophone and 2 DPA 4060 microphones between the slats.I will post the Hydrophone sounds here a little later…

Honey bees represent only a small fraction of the approximately 20,000 known species of bees. Some other types of related bees produce and store honey, but only members of the genus Apis are true honey bees.
As in a few other types of eusocial bees, a colony generally contains one queen bee, a fertile female; seasonally up to a few thousand drone bees or fertile males and a large seasonally variable population of sterile female worker bees. Details vary among the different species of honey bees, but common features include:
Eggs are laid singly in a cell in a wax honeycomb, produced and shaped by the worker bees. Using her spermatheca, the queen actually can choose to fertilise the egg she is laying, usually depending on what cell she is laying in. Drones develop from unfertilised eggs and are haploid, while females (Queens and worker bees) develop from fertilised eggs and are diploid. Larvae are initially fed with royal jelly produced by worker bees, later switching to honey and pollen. The exception is a larva fed solely on royal jelly, which will develop into a queen bee. The larva undergoes several moltings before spinning a cocoon within the cell, and pupating.
Young worker bees clean the hive and feed the larvae. When their royal jelly producing glands begin to atrophy, they begin building comb cells. They progress to other within-colony tasks as they become older, such as receiving nectar and pollen from foragers, and guarding the hive. Later still, a worker takes her first orientation flights and finally leaves the hive and typically spends the remainder of her life as a forager. (Information Wikipedia)

Recordings by Martyn Stewart
Recorder: SD 788
Microphones:DPA 4060 X 2
The following movie can be played at HD by choosing the HD option at the bottom right of the video.
Dan’s website can be found here.

High pressure 1015mb

The winds pick up at dawn on a sleepy Sunday morning. The pressure gauge reads 1015mb, A Barred owl shrieks out at a group of rats it has been steadily watching in the early hours. As the winds increase the old dried leaves blow from the trees, a coopers hawk smashes into a Steller’s jay and takes it to a feeding perch. The hawk calls out and starts to strip the bird apart. All this happens as the sleepy neighborhood still lay in their beds…

copyright: Mike Hamilton

Coopers hawk at dawn

Geek notes
Recorder: SD 722
Microphones: MKH 40/30
Sample rate: 44.1k 24 bit
Location: Redmond WA
Recordist: Martyn Stewart

Humidity: 57%
Time: 06:42

Tripod mounted with a rycote windjammer.
Copyright: Martyn Stewart 2010

The wild flowers of Rainier

Into August and the wild flowers of Mount Rainier are stunning. Insects collect pollen in this short summer season. There is a sense of urgency from the animals that make good of the very short season here.
Copyright: Rebecca Stewart
One of the most spectacular aspects of Mt. Rainier National Park is its world-renowned wildflower meadows. No matter what the length of your stay, a stroll among these seemingly endless fields of wildflowers is a must-do. Each July and August, Mt. Rainier’s meadows burst with color. Avalanche lilies, paintbrush, asters, daises, cinquefoil, fireweed, purple shooting stars and so many others, blanket the mountain in every color of the rainbow.

Coyote’s at Dusk

Copyright :Tim DeregThere is nothing more spectacular than listening to the coyote’s as the daylight ends. These were recorded outside my studio as I was editing. The land across the road opens up to over 300 acres and it is great habitat for these prowlers of the night. You can hear the youngsters call as the male brings home the meal. (I presume)
The coyote is a member of the dog family. In size and shape the coyote is like a medium-sized Collie dog, but its tail is round and bushy and is carried straight out below the level of its back. The ubiquitous coyote is found throughout North America from eastern Alaska to New England and south through Mexico to Panama. It originally ranged primarily in the northwest corner of the US, but it has adapted readily to the changes caused by human occupation and, in the past 200 years, has been steadily extending its range. Sightings now commonly occur in Florida, New England and eastern Canada.

Calls of the Coyote (Canis latrans) by: Martyn Stewart