2. Equipment


NocMig can be done with the simplest of equipment to get yourself started. Let us run you through some of the most common devices and setups so you can decide which suits you best. If NocMig is something you’re not sure you’re going to like long-term then you can begin with simply using an old mobile phone, set out on record. To keep this dry, you can place it in a ziploc bag, or an upright container with some cling film stretched tight, kept in place with an elastic band.

Listen below to a very brief, yet perfectly identifiable recording, made by Cork-based sound-recordist Brian Lynch, of a Common Scoter migrating overland, at Glanmire, just outside Cork City. Just a few years ago, before NocMig really came into the spotlight, if anyone told you, that you could record Common Scoter flying over an inland, suburban garden with an old mobile phone, you’d have thought they were crazy! But as Brian shows, it is in fact totally possible!

The next step up is the tiny but amazingly versatile Audiomoth. This is a matchbox-sized device which can be programmed to turn on and off at whatever times you choose. The battery life is extremely good, with devices capable of running un-manned for up to several weeks or even months. To protect it from the elements, you can simply place it in a small Ziploc bag (see image below). Whilst the quality of the audio isn’t as good as a handheld recorder or parabola setup, the versatility of the device more than makes up for this. A second version has just been released (Jan’ 2021) onto the market which allows one to combine it with an external mic. This will be a big game-changer for NocMiggers on a budget. Combining the new Audiomoth with the Clippy EM272 (mentioned in more detail below) would work very well for NocMig.

Baillon’s Crake (Porzana pusilla) NFC, recorded with the above pictured Audiomoth, in Catalunya, Spring 2020, by Seán. Photo: Seán Ronayne

For those of you who would like to do some basic sound-recording in the field, as well as NocMig , then a simple handheld-recorder is the answer. We use an Olympus LS-12, which is now unfortunately discontinued. However, don’t worry – there are plenty of comparable options on the market, with the Zoom range, in particular, proving very popular amongst NocMiggers. A common NocMig tactic when using a handheld recorder is to simply put it in an upright pot, sealed with cling-film and an elastic band. Both of these combined, protect the device from the wind and rain, with cling-film still being sufficiently sound-transparent to avoid any real noticeable deterioration in sound-quality.

Whilst this isn’t the prettiest or most technical-looking setup, it is extremely effective. Photo: Seán Ronayne.
NFCs from a flyover flock of Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes) , recorded by Seán, using the above photographed setup, in Catalunya.

People have created various homemade devices, where they combine mics with a handheld recorder: some of these work very well. One good option is to buy a simple Clippy EM272 which you can get for as little as £35 here. The EM272 is a low-noise, high-sensitivity omni-capsule which produces amazingly clean audio. You can combine the Clippy with any manner of MacGyver-esque setups to create your very own DIY NocMig-station.

See below for a perfect example, by Irish NocMigger and sound-recordist Mark Shorten. Here Mark combines a handheld recorder with a Clippy EM272, which is pointed to a metal dish, which in turn acts like a parabola – amplifying the sound. Whilst it doesn’t look all too pretty, Mark’s audio sample (below) speaks volumes.

Simple, cheap & effective Clippy EM272 setup by Mark Shorten. Photo: Mark Shorten
Sandwich Terns (Thalasseus sandvicensis), with a bat sp for good measure, migrating over Cork City, recorded by Mark Shorten – Spring 2020

If you want to get the best out of your NocMig recordings and take your field recording seriously, then a recorder and parabola setup is for you. A more serious external microphone such as the Sennheiser ME66 could also be an option here, although a parabola gives even further reach. We highly recommend Dodotronic who make extremely good parabolas at a price that is almost impossible to beat. As well as this, their customer service and delivery speeds are second-to-none. We use a Dodotronic Hi-Sound Stereo setup and swear by it. Have a listen to some of our favourite NocMig recordings taken with the device, below.

The Dodotronic Hi-Sound Parabola setup for a night of NocMig action. Photo: Seán Ronayne
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) NFC. Photo: Seán Ronayne
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis) NFC. Photo: Seán Ronayne
Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) NFC. Photo: Seán Ronayne
Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus) NFC. Photo: Seán Ronayne
Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius) NFC. Photo: Seán Ronayne

Continue to ——-> Part 3: How?

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