One of my recent recordings from Iceland is featured:
Theme Submission: Beauty
Track title: The Common Eider choral
Time and location: Midbær freshwaterpond, Hrisey, Iceland. Mid May. 2 pm. 2012.
Type of recording: AB stereo recording of Common Eiders, recorded with a pair of omnidirectional DPA 4060´s and a Sounddevices 702 recorder. 96 KHz/24 bit.
Recordist: Elin Øyen Vister, Norway
Websites: Www.soundscaperost.com and www.childofklang.no
Theme: For me “beauty” is truly revealed when nature again and again unfolds it´s innate musicality. The voices of the Common Eider´s rich and intricate vocalisaton is to me utterly beautiful. I am listening and being within a soundscape that plays out similar to a choral.
I am visiting Ulla Knudsen on Ytribær, a small farm in a private nature reserve on the island of Hrisey, situated in Eydafjordur, on the northernmost tip of Iceland. She is serving me tea and cake and we are talking about her interest in Common Eiders and other seabirds. Ulla Knudsen and her family have been harvesting Eider down in their privately own nature reserve for the past 60 years. Her late husband bought the land and made a reserve back in the 60´s to protect the birdlife, in particular the Common Eider. Gulls and other possible predators are not as welcome. They are hunted down and shot every May. As many as a hundred gulls, are killed to make safe the Eider haven of Hrisey. Harvesting the downs of the Eider is a tradition old as man and is still an important source of income to the Knudsen family, who all help out during the season, lasting from May to July. The down is collected when the chicks have left the nests sometime in late June, or the beginning of July.
Ullas husband made several artificial lake for the Eiders. The Eiders, as well as several other bird species seem to love breeding on the shores of these lakes. I am not really permitted to approach Midbær, the area of the lakes, as we are not to disturb the early days of the breeding season. The female Eider is lying on the eggs and if we disturb her or make her weary, she might shed some shit on the down covering the eggs. A strategy to make the nest unattractive to predators. The down, covering about 3 eggs, has been plucked off her chest by herself and is surprisingly warming. A Common Eider female will not leave her nest unless she has to, meaning if a spring snowstorms arrive, she will stay on the eggs even if she freezes to death.
I need to get close to do the recording I am after so later that evening I sneak as gently and softly as possible down to the lake. I hide a set of DPA 4060 microphones in a bush and cover my Sounddevices 702 recorder with a hunting bag, to keep it safe from rain. The microphones are covered in double windshield. First small windshields and then the coating from my
A few days later day I meet Ulla and her Norwegian cousin in the local geotermally heated swimmingpool. They are telling me how they had found a mysterious grey object inside a bush by one of their freshwater ponds. I reveal the truth telling them about my urge to record close up singing , chatter and murmuing of Eider, thus placing the windshield holding the mics in the bush. Later on that evening I visit them again on Ytribær to play them the wonderful recordings, and they are mesmorized as myself of the beauty of being inside such a wonderous soundscape. Thus I get away with my mischief…
Elin Øyen Vister, Tromsø, October 2012.