May

11

2018

The Dance of a Newly Discovered Bird-of-Paradise

Differences in vocalisations are increasingly being investigated as to whether they indicate hitherto unrecognised new species. In this case, the visual display is just as significant. And amazing.

I can imagine how many hours went into locating and filming these birds to capture the high-resolution images and audio on this video. That it is such an iconic bird makes me wonder how many other discoveries await patient naturalists and sound recordists.

Click here for the full research paper. Thanks to Tony Baylis for alerting us to this new research.

Apr

27

2018

Here’s the buzz on recording bees!

by Vicki Powys

I knew about buzz pollination from watching David Attenborough’s Life of Insects on TV a few years ago. Some bees could buzz at a certain pitch to release pollen from certain flowers. “Middle C…”, said David Attenborough, “…the pitch has to be Middle C”. I was intrigued as I’d never heard about this before.

Then one spring morning in 2016, on my woodland property in Capertee Valley, New South Wales, yellow guinea flowers began to bloom and I could hear the conspicuous flight hum of a very large and shiny black bee. It buzzed loudly as it settled on each flower, before zooming off to the next one. This was a female Australian carpenter bee Xylocopa aeratus, and I was keen to get a photo and to record its buzz.

Female carpenter bee Xylocopa aeratus buzzing a guinea flower Hibbertia obtusifolia, Capertee Valley NSW, 8 November 2016.

I waited amidst the low-growing guinea flower shrubs, seated on a folding stool, camera and recorder at the ready. It became a daily ritual – at dawn each day I’d go off to watch bees buzzing. As well as the big, black carpenter bees there were also smaller native bees, all buzzing the guinea flowers and collecting pollen. I took photos and made videos with my Lumix pocket camera, and recorded the buzzing sounds on my Olympus LS10, using its built-in mics or a Sennheiser ME66 gun microphone.

My bee recording kit – folding stool, Lumix DCM-TZ60 camera, Olympus LS10 audio recorder and Sennheiser ME66 supercardoid microphone in pistol grip.

Of course I was keen to know if all my bees buzzed at Middle C, so I analyzed the recordings to find the fundamental pitch of the pollination buzz for each bee species. For this I downloaded free Praat software, and learned how to use it from a YouTube video.

My findings were exciting! These Capertee Valley bees buzzed at a wide range of frequencies – up to one octave either side of Middle C! The pitch of the buzz did not relate to the size of the bee, nor to the size of the flower.

Audio: Female carpenter bee, Xylocopa aeratus. The higher-pitched pollination buzz alternates with the flight hum.
30 October 2016, 7.19 am EST, ME66 gun mic to Olympus LS10.

Click here to read more about this project on my website

Apr

7

2018

Join us! – Ecoacoustics Congress, Brisbane, June 2018

How can sound deepen our understanding of the environment? What role can acoustic monitoring play in helping identify the presence of animals in a habitat? What indications of ecosystem health may analysis of soundscapes offer? And how can artists and musicians respond to the natural environment and scientific data through creative engagement?

These questions and more will bring researchers and artists from the world to Brisbane this June for the biennial Ecoacoustics Congress.

Ecoacoustics Congress, Brisbane June 2018

more »

Mar

23

2018

Is Birdsong Music? – book & CD reviews by Michael Hannan

AWSRG member Michael Hannan has written two reviews of recent publications by zoomusicologist, composer, violinist (and fellow AWSRG member), Hollis Taylor.

Hollis’s work presents insights and responses to the songs of Pied Butcherbirds, and essentially poses the question; do birds display a sense of aesthetics? It is an intriguing question!

Click here for Michael’s review of Hollis’s book, ‘Is Birdsong Music?

and here for his other review of her accompanying double CD of compositions and field recordings; ‘Absolute Bird’.

Michael himself is a composer and performer, and had one of his pieces premiered at our recent conference by clarinetist Vicki Hallett (which can be heard here – scroll down to audio file #19)

Mar

13

2018

Is birdsong music?

Birdsong is often exquisitely beautiful, yet many people argue that it is purely functional. It certainly enables birds to attract mates, declare their territories and communicate with individuals of their own species. Musicologist and composer, Hollis Taylor, has spent many years closely studying the songs of pied butcherbirds.

Hollis Taylor

In this hour long episode of the Science Show broadcast recently on ABC Radio National, Hollis outlines the case for birdsong as music.

Feb

20

2018

Vicki Hallett attends Sonic Mmabolela

In 2017, Australian composer and musician Vicki Hallett attended the 5th Sonic Mmabolela workshop. Sonic Mmabolela is a residency for sound artists and composers with previous experience in sound recording and experimentation. It is held annually at Mmabolela Reserve in the Limpopo valley of South Africa.

Click here to hear some of the compositions from Sonic Mmabolela 2017

Live at Mabolel Rock from Vicki Hallett on Vimeo.

Jan

28

2018

Presentations from the 2017 AWSRG Conference, Baradine

Each of the presentations at our 2017 conference were audio recorded as a document of the event, and are presented here in program order.

The acoustic in the room makes it difficult to hear at times, but hopefully the audio will be clear enough. Thanks to Bob Tomkins for making these recordings.

more »

Jan

26

2018

Is noise causing birds stress responses similar to PTSD?

New research gives pause for thought…

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2018/01/09/some-birds-are-so-stressed-by-noise-pollution-it-looks-like-they-have-ptsd/?utm_term=.1816f166c00f

Jan

18

2018

Huon Peninsula Soundscape, Papua New Guinea Rainforest

The Perspectives on Listening Symposium in Brisbane this last December gave me the incentive to edit up a soundscape from our recent trip to the Huon Peninsula in Papua New Guinea.

Leah Barclay invited myself (Andrew), Tony Baylis, David Stewart, Rod Thorn and Sue Gould to form a panel to discuss the trip and how we approached our sound recording. David, Rod and Sue were unable to attend, but Tony Baylis and I showed images and contrasted our individual field techniques and results. My impression of our one hour session was that many in the audience were particularly fascinated to hear of Tony’s bioacoustic field work.

Meanwhile, I edited this soundscape as an installation on multiple headphones so participants could immerse themselves in the rainforest during breaks in the symposium program.

The edit is compiled from seven sources, each about five minutes in duration, and representing aspects of the various altitude ranges to which we trekked and recorded.

Location sources are:
A – Hill forest (~1100m)
B – Mountain forest (Camp Astrapia) (~2000m)
C – Mountain forest (Midway Camp) (~2150m)
D – Cloudforest (Camp 13) (~2800m)
Timings are for approximate transitions.

0:00     1. Predawn insect chorus with Sooty Owl, Feline Owlet Nightjar and Papuan Boobook (B)
4:20     2. Dawn chorus with Regent Whistler, Lesser Melampitta and Ornate Fruit Doves (C)
10:10    3. Regent Whistler song (B)
16:40    4. Greater Ground Robin song (D)
21:30    5. Huon Bowerbird by its bower (D)
27:10    6. Emperor Bird of Paradise, with Cicadabird and Growling Riflebird (A)
33:40    7. Dusk cicada chorus, with Papuan Woodcock dusk flight calls (D)

I’ll be publishing extended recordings for free listening on our Listening Earth website in the near future, and will post specific links here.

Dec

20

2017

Chris Watson interview with Richard Fidler

Chris Watson, British wildlife sound recordist

For those of you who (like myself) missed it when first broadcast a few months ago, here is a link to the delightful interview by Richard Fidler with British field recordist Chris Watson.

Chris is not only a hugely accomplished recordist, but a great story teller and sensitive naturalist, and unlike many interviewers dealing with sound and nature, Richard ‘gets it’.

http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/conversations-chris-watson/9036566