Chris Watson answers your wildlife sound questions
Guest blog: After his adventures on last week's Autumnwatch, Chris Watson readily admits to being obsessed with sound. Straight after Autumnwatch he hopped on a plane to Brussels to inspire a lecture hall full of budding sound recordists. We managed to grab him for a few minutes in between lectures to answer your questions.
Nicola Main asks: What's the most unexpected or unusual thing Chris has ever recorded?
Over the years I've been so lucky with the projects I've worked on, but this year has been pretty spectacular. For the last few years I have been working on the forthcoming BBC Frozen Planet series which is exploring the frozen world from pole to pole.
The eeriest sounds I think I've ever heard are the sounds made by a glacier moving. We often think we live on planet Earth but really we live on planet ocean. Sound travels five times faster through water than it does through air, creating a highly complex sound that has travelled over vast underwater landscapes to reach us.
The acoustics of the ocean take us into a bizarre world where you can listen in on crustaceans moving, whales calling and even icebergs slowly edging towards the sea.
Lily beetle asks: Male birds of different species are often heard singing, have you recorded any female bird song?
Great question. The male bird is undoubtedly more vocal compared to the female, however both are commonly heard. At this time of year you can hear robins calling as they defend and establish territories.
dampflippers asks: Have you ever heard a hedgehog clucking?
No unfortunately not I haven’t heard the clucking but they are very vocal. Prior to mating they make a really loud snuffly grunting sound which can often be heard in the early evening at dusk.
Matthew Denman asks: Do you have words of advice on how I might go about getting into wildlife sound recording?
There are many courses and qualifications that are available that can teach you about techniques and the fundamentals behind sound recording but for me the most important thing is mastering fieldcraft. You need to get to know your wildlife which can only happen by spending time in the field.
Learn how to use your kit in the most hostile of environments; in the dark, high winds and heavy rain. Spend time finding out the best method of approaching animals and wildlife so not to spook them but to allow you to get close enough to get the intimate sounds. Really fieldcraft is only gained by spending the majority of your time outdoors.
TomRedKite asks: How do you record bird of prey sounds? And what's your favourite bird of prey?
I’ve always liked the sounds of merlins, one of our small British falcons. You need a licence to approach them around breeding season when they can be vulnerable in their nesting position on the ground.
For me the sound of a merlin epitomises the sounds of our moorlands, although at this time of year they are out at the coast. Most of my experince of recording these beautiful birds has been using a parabolic reflector as they call in flight. They really keep you on your toes. They are so fast you have to be spontaneous and ready to grab the kit and start recording.
Peregrine Falcon Took asks: What is the the weirdest thing you've heard?
The strangest sounds I have ever heard are probably the abstract ones, when you get really close to a sound or when you hear sounds out of context. I heard the most unusual sound from the carcass of a dead wood mouse. It took me a few moments to realise that the strange squeaking sounds were actually being made by sexton beetle larvae as they fed and not the mouse resurrecting from the dead.
Peregrine Falcon Took asks: On 21 Oct you recorded sounds near the river Coquet. Later on you recorded in the dark and we heard some tawny owls. But on the background there was a short higher birdsound. I have been hearing these birds for two years in our polder, mostly late at night. Cannot find out what they are. Please can you tell me.
I think the sound you are referring to is most likely to be from redwings, a species of thrush, flying over head. Redwings are winter visitors to this country from Scandinavia. If you hear them at night in woodlands flying overhead it is their flight call.
On this weeks show (4th November) Nick Baker is joining us from Dartmoor. Send us the questions you want him to answer.