Photo: Ernst Vikne via Wikipedia

I have recently been enjoying the sight of a pair of nesting robins (Erithacus rubecula) who chose to build their nest among the ivy and honeysuckle on a fence directly outside my studio. The glass paneled door and position of my desk meant that the dutiful feeding trips of the male returning to the sitting female frequently caught my eye. I eagerly awaited the hatching of the chicks as their nesting position was conveniently situated for me to gain easy access with my microphones. A week or so later the increased frequency of the parents darting in and out of the nest, accompanied by a distinct, high pitched chattering sound on each visit signaled my time for action.

Using a pair of small, lightweight omnidirectional microphones I was able to clip these to the shrubbery just outside the entrance to the nest.  This recording captures the sound of the adult birds’ wings as they enter the nest, the excited chattering of the babies as they call out to be fed followed by some satisfied chirps. In this particular excerpt the background ambiance reveals the urban location, the slightly inclement weather and the unexpected, mid-week peal of bells from the local church.

While the position of the nest, barely 1.5m up the fence, was ideal for my field recording pleasure, since their arrival I had been concerned about the security of this location. There are neighbourhood cats that also appear at my window. Inevitably, after only a few precious days of life the robins were conspicuous by their absence and a quick look revealed one of the chicks, floating lifeless in a bucket of rainwater by the back door. Life is harsh in the urban jungle.  So this turn of events lends a particular poignancy to this recording.