Why is it that I never get a weekend off from recording?
So, there I was, enjoying a nice quiet weekend of yardwork, accounting and just plain relaxing and all of a sudden the wildlife around here springs to life. Truth is, it’s about time. This was the first hot and sunny weekend since Septemeber of 2010 if my memory serves me well. I’m assuming we are about 3 weeks late for spring and summer. In additon, we had an enormous amout of snow and rain the first half of the year. This warm weather and flooding conditions make a perfect world for wildlife.
Over the weekend I was hanging out on my deck enjoying a cup of coffee and the view and from above my head I heard this maniacal squeaking. It was coming from the peak of my roof and I knew it was my bats…. they must of been doing something X-Rated. When I rebuilt my roof a few years ago I thought I had blocked off the peak with some screen door mesh but it seems the bats have found a way in. Nature is wonderful, always finds a way.
The peak of my roof is over 20 feet high so I quickly grabbed my Sennheiser MKH-416 (which was already on my long boom pole just inside the house). I wanted to use the MKH-8040 but it was in the stereo rig and not on a pole and I was rushing to get the mic up in the air. Fully extended my boom pole is 16 feet so I had to hold the end with one hand 4 feet higher and try to keep it steady. I was so excited to finally get some bat recordings without going to batworld in some strange country that I was shaking a little and had to steady myself, deep breaths, etc. There was some backgound noise like lawnmowers and weed wackers (which started as soon as I raised the boom… surprised?) but all in all I got a few good takes of some really pissed off mating bats.
Now the Bees….
The Lilac bushes were on their way to full bloom over the weekend and I have never seen or heard so many bees in my life in one place on the ranch. Big bumble bees, small honey bees and a strange looking fuzzy insect were all in the Lilac bushes and other flowers like it was crack. They seemed they were in a serious rush to get what they need from the Lilac flowers. I was able to record some big bumble bees very close up, they pretty much ignored the mic and did their thing.
I used the MKH 8040ST in XY mode first and recorded the general ambience of the Lilac bush wiht some close fly-bys and was happy with the results. These mic pick up much more off axis background noise than a stereo shotgun so I had to be very careful with the angle I was using. I then switched to the MKH-416 and recorded some big bumble bees in another flower bush. There were two bees flying from flower to flower to get as much stuff as they could before sundown. I have a feeling they will be back. I’ll be ready.
I learned two important lessons while recording this weekend: 1) Wildlife is very unpredictable. 2) Post “recording in progress” signs around the ranch to get clean recordings.