That wasn't in lockdown though. So I did a bit of research yesterday to see how I might improve the experience and get a better quality recording. The answer - well, the cheap answer at any rate - was a bucket. Very low tech, but apparently by placing the recorder in a bucket you can block much of the wind noise. The size and colour of the bucket were not specified, but I am quite fond of subtle shades of red when it comes to birding.
Right, all set. I put it out at around 10.30pm last night just before I went to bed, and enjoyed a peaceful sleep untroubled by thoughts of what might be flying over my house attracted by my bucket.
The batteries ran out at 2.17am. What a rookie error - much to learn I still have. Nonetheless I had about four hours to go though, and so after my morning VizMig session during which I recorded a lot of Redwing, I made myself a coffee, fired up Audacity, and got to work. Sirens. Cars. Doors slamming. A few gunshots..... Welcome to London. The bucket had definitely made a difference though, the band of noise in the low register below 1kHz was much reduced and it was a lot easier to pick out the ususual sounds. I had a couple of definite Redwings at around 1am, and then at 1.19am a series of very interesting calls.
I was immediately suspicious as I did not recognise them. However many of the Noc-migging websites use Common Scoter as an example species as they are known to migrate over land in large numbers and give quite distinctive flight calls. These calls sounded quite similar to my untrained ear, the sonogram looked about right, and furthermore the birdy internet reported a lot of Common Scoter activity overnight. I wonder....
I sent the file to our local WhatsApp group, one of whom also homed in on Common Scoter. Another friend said it was a Coot before settling on maybe a Scoter! Things were looking promising. Then I sent it to the wider East London birding group which has a couple of members who are well into sound recordings. I received positive affirmation immediately.
Common Scoter over my house! On my Wanstead li.......Ah. Dilemma. My fellow Wanstead birders were quick (some would say very quick!) to provide some helpful advice regarding the effect of rain on parades. I cannot count it, it would apparently be like counting a photo of a bird a neighbour took in my garden whilst I was on holiday. I think that's a little extreme, but I agree with the sentiment. I was physically present but not paying much attention, and only through the magic of technology and a red bucket do we retrospectively know that a Common Scoter flew over the patch. But what a shame! This is the first patch record since 1961, mega does not even begin to describe it.
The question of course is whether I can stay awake all night in the hope of a repeat. A small part of me really wants to. However the rest of me is old and tired and doubts I can manage it.