Champions of the Flyway!

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Black-crowned Night-heron, Filey - 23rd June '21

Oh where are you now, my red-eyed son...               (Library pic from Chicago a decade ago)

Snakes and ladders, swings and roundabouts.... at the back-end of what's best described as a uniquely weird spring comes another sting in the tail, this one with an altogether sweeter flavour. As many of you will know I've been banging on about / extolling the joys of nocturnal migration recording (nocmig) for over a year now, and while still very much a beginner, progress has been swift and many lessons learned (see, well, plenty of entries over the last 15 months). But as detailed recently, but for a few choice highlights and a handful of decent nights it's been a consistently poor spring for nocmig, and as of a couple of weeks ago it was time to review the effort/reward ratio as the season slowed to a crawl.
This basically entailed mothballing the house recorder until autumn (because of the Herring Gull colony) and deploying a recently-purchased Audiomoth device (in place of a regular sound recorder) up on the North Cliff here in Filey. The latter decision is a pay-off of sorts, sacrificing some recording/audio quality and reach for the luxury of being able to preprogramme the audiomoth to record automatically at times of your choice, and the option of leaving it in situ for many days, even weeks, at a time. It's a good time of year to experiment, with very little happening in the night skies, but the chance of a random overshoot or curveball for those who persist; with this in mind, I retrieved the North Cliff audiomoth this afternoon and reviewed the last few nights. Not much, except for the odd Oystercatcher, Coot and Moorhen, a late arrival insomniac Sedge Warbler, a few returning Curlews, and this....


 (And an example to compare:) 


 ... at 0141hrs yesterday morning (23rd). Caution is naturally the default response to any potentially scarce nocmig records, but even on first listen, it sounded uncannily perfect for a Black-crowned Night-heron, with a second, much fainter call shortly after - at which point, you take a step back, go into research mode (thank you, Sound Approach and Xeno-Canto, we love you both very much), discuss it with the local nocmig team on Whatsapp, and if it's still worth pursuing, consult a range of expert sound-recordists and nocmiggers who are kind enough to advise.
The carrot and stick approach

In the case of the latter, we're fortunate to have the ear of some very generous and learned folk, and in situations like this I'm more than happy to bow to their greater knowledge (in fact, it's an essential prerequisite) - and so when Magnus, Stanislas, James, Yoav et al give it the rubber-stamp with bells and whistles (thanks all), the degree of confidence required is exceeded, and it's time to celebrate.