Working for birds in Africa

Bird Recordings from Ethiopia

Fri, 12/21/2012 - 15:26 -- abc_admin
Steve Smith. 1996. Single cassette. Privately produced, but available from WildSounds, Cross Street, Salthouse, Norfolk NR25 7XH. UK£7.50.
pp 78-79

This tape comprises 71 separate recordings covering 66 different species (including those in the background) and in some cases a range of vocalisations such as songs, calls etc. Each is verbally identified on the tape, using English names, at the end of the recording. A reasonable gap exists between recordings, making it easy to identify the tracks. The liner notes present a list of all the recordings, with English name, scientific name, date and location of the recording. In some instances additional species that are obviously audible are also listed - though others that appear equally obvious are not mentioned. Names follow the Collins Illustrated Checklist to the Birds of Eastern Africa by Ber van Perlo; however, that listed as 'Common Scops Owl' is obviously an African Scops Owl Otus senegalensis and should have been listed as such. The tape runs for 45-46 minutes in total and is therefore reasonable value for money. Obviously, it is the endemics that are of particular interest to any visiting birder and this tape includes ten of these, so scores fairly highly in terms of usefulness.

Nine of the recordings are very brief and the quality varies from poor to very good. I assessed seven recording as being 'poor' - these possessed a lot of background noise and it was sometimes quite difficult to establish the sounds made by the subject and what was extraneous noise. Of the 31 'reasonable' recordings, it was always possible to establish the noise of the subject from extraneous noise. I rated only one recording as 'very good' but others came very close to that rating. The remaining 32 were of 'good' quality with little or no interference, but some had low recording levels preventing them from being rated as 'very good'.

On the whole the tape is useful and definitely worth listening to in advance of a trip to Ethiopia. The recordings of the endemics are of particular value and it is a pity that the quality of some of these is not better. Personally, I was really pleased at the quality of the Degodi Lark Mirafra degodiensis call and songs, and would have bought it for these alone, but that's another story.

Roy Hargreaves

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