Monday, 3 January 2011

A trip to Horsey

Over the christmas break we undertook our first combined 'Hedgefinders' outing, accompanied by some of the family, to the beach at Horsey Gap, one of the main North Norfolk seal pupping beaches.

It has apparently been a bumper year for grey seals locally, with over 300 pups at Horsey and some 700 at Blakeney. It is a real privilege to be able to get so close to these normally sea-bound mammals, as they haul onto the beaches to pup and mate at this time of year. Most are on the beach (roped off to prevent interference which can result in abandonment), but some pups come into the dunes, where one can inadvertently almost stumble on them, especially on the foggy day that we visited. The presence of fog also exacerbated the unearthliness of their calls. The strange wailing that drifted towards us through the winter mists was at times canine, at other times almost human, and often quite eerie as you can hear in this recording:

Here are some links to other recordings:

Although I have recorded a lot of music, this is my first attempt at field-recording wildlife, and although there is a lot of background noise (the sea, passing children, camera noises etc), I'm pleased that I've managed to get a discernible recording of what I was trying to capture. For the record, I was using a Zoom H4n, and slightly EQ'd and compressed the recordings subsequently in order to optimise the seal noises, although the range of frequencies that the sea presents makes this a challenge. In undertaking this enhancement, I noticed that within the adult noises I recorded, there are two clear frequency 'spikes' at around 500 and 1200khz simultaneously, which I imagine with the right equipment and enough recordings, one could use to identify individual 'voices' through their signature frequencies. Hopefully in due course, I shall be able to improve the quality of my recording, as I learn more about both how to capture and enhance the sounds.

All in all, a highly enjoyable and memorable experience, both for being so close to the animals, but also because of the opportunity to share it with family and friends.

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