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Nocmig recording in city center - is it worth trying? (1 Viewer)


Well-known member

I recently thought about starting with nocmig recordings. As a beginner I wouldn‘t want to spend a lot of money so I thought about getting the Audiomoth recorder. But as I am living close to the city center of Düsseldorf I don‘t know if it‘s worth the investment and effort. For most of the night I will probably record either my neighbors (if I put the recorder on the balcony facing the backyards/gardens of my apartment block) or city noise (if put the recorder out of window on the street side).

Has anyone experience with nocmig recordings (especially with the Audiomoth recorder) from inner city areas? Is the city’s background noise a problem for recording and identification?
Also do migrating birds fly over bright city lights? During autumn last year and spring this year I saw a couple thousand Common Cranes flying over my balcony (over a few days) and some White Storks so if nocturnal migrating species take the same routes it might be worth a try.

What do you think? Is it worth the investment and effort?


As you may know Berlin Peregrines started to hunt during night some years ago with great success, so yes birds are migrating during the night over city centers


Well-known member
They even use the lights of big cities as guidelines where to fly, so yes they fly over cities. I live in a smaller Dutch city and thought of a nocmig setup, for a few years but never got to it yet, but thought of setting it on a bit of flat roof so it's elevated a bit. And then put the recorder pointing straight up in some kind of bowl or dish shaped pan, line it with bubble wrap to prevent echoing. The thought is, it's more pointed skyward and blocking out some sound from down and around. No idea if that's a sound working plan, cooked it up when reading up on it, ideas I found here and there. So just a bit of brainstorm from me, might help you form more a bit of a plan.


Well-known member
I don't record in a town exactly, but in suburbia. Two things that are annoying when recording in built up areas

1/ Traffic noise can be a problem (it is amazing how many cars still seem to be on the road at 3am in the morning - at least where I live). Low frequency noise reflects and refracts a lot, so it is hard to omit low frequency traffic noise, even with a directional mic.

2/ The lights mean that resident birds are awake at various times through the night. Many times I have thought I have captured a nocturnal migrant, only to listen and find it is a Robin tick from an obviously stationary bird. Where there are lights, Robins can sing during the night, and generally start a least an hour of so before dawn, which can make trying to isolate out a nocmig vocal difficult and annoying.

Where I am, I don't seem to have great success with NocMig recordings - plenty of Redwings in autumn, the odd Moorhen or Grey Heron, but not a great deal of variety. This may be nothing to do with being in suburbia, but could be to do with topography. People in the area who seem to get the best results, have located their kit in the countryside, but perhaps more importantly on hill tops - If a bird is passing over a 100m, rather than 500m it will make a big difference on detection.

It will be interesting to find out how the guys at 'Birding Beijing' will do this autumn. They are testing an SM Mini placed on the rooftop of a building in the city of Beijing. I understand that they will be doing continuous night time recording, so won't have time to analyse their recordings and determine success until late autumn/winter.


Jon Bryant
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