The use of a Stereo Microphone in a 33 cm parabolic dish

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Here Guido Pinoli at Pian di Spagna, Como-Sondrio – (photo courtesy of Gianni Pavan)
Below recordings of Guido Pinoli & Gianni Pavan
Great Reed Warbler – Reed Bunting

To achieve a recording of a subject in its soundscape context (which represents the acoustic photograph of the environment we are investigating), we need to use a stereo recording, better if a wide focused parabolic stereo microphone system.
By adopting the stereo configuration with the capsules positioned in a “non-traditional way”, quite outside of the focal point of the parabolic dish, Guido Pinoli and Gianni Pavan were able to obtain (at Pian di Spagna Como-Sondrio – I) an enlargement of the background sound scene, approaching the perfect stereophonic effect that is difficult to achieve when using a traditional parabolic microphone.


Here an excellent soundscape recorded on 2020-May-21 by Guido Pinoli at “Capanne di Marcarolo” nature park (Genoa) – I – Parabolic stereo Microphone, 33 cm Dish.

Phylloscopus Bonelli, Certhia brachydactyla, in the background Lullula arborea – by Guido Pinoli
Bonelli’s Warbler, Phylloscopus bonelli Ph Gianluca Galli
Phylloscopus bonelli – Certhia brachydactyla overlapping in the background with Lullula arborea –
To underline that for Certhya brachydactyla and Lullula arborea there is no overlap in frequency and the two songs stand out visually and are perfectly separable.

Recording by Guido Pinoli
Spectrogram created using SeaPro by Gianni Pavan / CIBRA / Università di Pavia –


Here are two very short examples of video recording with audio coming from the same 33 cm parabolic dish, same Primo EM172 microphones, but powered by the video camera through Phantom 48V.

Cervus elaphus rutting
Buteo buteo singing in the snow

Thanks to the courtesy of Marco Omodei Salé

Canon XHA1 and 33 cm Stereo Parabolic Microphones System

Marco Omodei Salé, the author of the two videos above; the wildlife filmaker is perfectly camouflaged ready for a naturalistic video shooting session
See also

Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus “warm-up”!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Last morning I was looking for some call or song of migratory birds that in this season migrate through our latitudes, when I was attracted, in audio headphones, by the buzz of an insect, a particularly “annoying” buzz. I directed my Sennheiser ME66 half shotgun directional microphone towards the sound source, by means of hearing, without first seeing what and what the subject was. Once the sound was focused, I noticed that it was emitted by a Hoverfly sp. laid on an Elderberry leaf.
That seemed unusual to me in that I had never noticed this behavior by the hoverflies, but I must say the truth that it is not a group of insects to which I have ever paid particular attention.

At first I thought of something inherent to a territorial / reproductive behavior.
I took some photos, made some short videos, but above all I made some audio recordings. Talking to my friend Cesare Brizio, particularly well versed in some groups of insects, he suggested a possible explanation for this phenomenon, assuming a sort of warming up before flying away in displacement and courtship.
Formulated this hypothesis, in the next days I devoted myself to a more accurate observation. Actually I was able to notice that, after having made some short flights, some subjects landed on the leaves exposed to the sun, almost imperceptibly vibrating the wings but at a considerable “speed”, at the same time emitting a particularly high hum in frequency with respect to the frequency in Hertz at which we are used to hearing the normal buzz of flight. This hum then tended to increase more and more in frequency until it reached a point where the subject suddenly took off, instantly changing the buzzing to the classic flight buzzing.

So, may be a behavior to be defined as described as a sort of warm up, or may it have to do with a territorial / reproductive behavior? In the absence of any bibliographical information, I will continue my observations, if only to satisfy my curiosity!

Here we can see the “warm up” phase for four distinct subjects

Ortolan Bunting

Reading Time: < 1 minute
Emberiza hortulana

Ortolan bunting song.

Recorded using a mid MONO parabolic microphone – 2 x Primo EM172 caps and a 33 cm dish.
Filmed with a Sony Nex6 + adapter and a Lens Nikon 400 IF-ED 5,6.

Special thanks to Gastone Pivatelli.

Marsh Warbler Song

Reading Time: < 1 minute
Recorded using a HiSound 688 stereo – Olympus LS5 Low Cut Filter – Normalized

Nightingales Duet song in a marshy environment

Reading Time: < 1 minute

TETA – DIY Stereo Microphone – AOM 5024L capsules

Nightingales Duet song in a marshy environment


Reading Time: < 1 minute

European green toad – Bufotes viridis – Rospo smeraldino

Recorded using a Telinga PIP parabolic microphone (Plug In Power, with direct power supplied by the Zoom H1 digital audio recorder).

Registrazione effettuata mediante l’utilizzo di un microfono parabolico Telinga PIP (Plug In Power, con alimentazione diretta fornita dal registratore audio digitale Zoom H1).

Blackcap Song… and More!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

If we take in apart the aspect of its song, the Blackcap, Sylvia atricapilla, is a very crazy bird!
When we hear an unusual bird song, before thinking of any kind of bird unknown to us, it’ll be better if we exclude the possibility that it could be a Blackcap!
The Blackcap song is one of the least stereotyped that can be heard among the european birds, characterized by local dialectal variations. Moreover, it is frequently given in the form and with imitative phrases of other bird species, which generates further confusion for a correct ID.
Do we want to make life even more complicated? Let’s compare the song of the Blackcap to that of the Garden Warbler, Sylvia borin, and the damage is done!

PS For the Garden Warbler take a look at the images shown in reverse mode.


Se prendiamo in considerazione l’aspetto del canto, la Capinera, Sylvia atricapilla, è da considerarsi una specie veramente pazza!
Quando sentiamo un canto strano, prima di pensare a qualsiasi altra specie di uccello a noi sconosciuto, sarà meglio escludere la possibilità che possa trattarsi di una capinera. Il canto della capinera è uno dei meno stereotipati che si possano sentire tra gli uccelli europei, caratterizzato da notevoli variazioni dialettali locali. Inoltre, viene spesso emesso con frasi imitative di canti di altre specie di uccelli, il che genera ulteriore elemento di confusione per una corretta identificazione.
Vogliamo renderci la vita ancor più complicata? Confrontiamo il canto della capinera con quello del beccafico, Sylvia borin, e la frittata è fatta!

A full song is normally structured with relatively short phrases

Blackcap Full Song, breeding season
Garden Warbler Sylvia borin, breeding, full song 29 June 2012

In the last decades we have seen a remarkable increase in subjects performing the so-called Leier song (but what does Leier mean? let’s hear from Giancarlo Fracasso…), a song characterized by one or two notes repeated several times in the final part of the song phrase (see below).

Blackcap Leier Song

Blackcap Leier Song

Here a prolonged song, also known as plastic song

Blackcap Plastic song
Garden Warbler, Sylvia borin, plastic song during migration 24 May 2019


Below we have four examples of the specialty of the blackcap: the imitative song.
It’s easier to hear it during the spring migration.

Blackcap imitative song of Common Reed Warbler and Marsh Warbler
Blackcap imitative song of Common Whitethroat and Willow Warbler

Now a subsong of a juvenile bird, mainly hearing in autumn and winter.
It’s very soft, with very long and interminable phrases.

Blackcap Subsong

Finally a very curious and repetitive Blackcap song!

Juvenile MARSH WARBLER Subsong

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Marsh Warbler Acrocephalus palustris Subsong of a Juvenile bird

This is a subsong not so easy to record and particularly difficult to recognize: it is the song of a juvenile male of a Marsh Warbler, Acrocephalus palustris, about two months old, which already begins to emit its first singing phrases. In the last part of the file there is the generic call.

Questo è un sottocanto non facile da registrare e particolarmente difficile da riconoscere: è il canto di un giovane maschio di Cannaiola verdognola, Acrocephalus palustris, nato da meno di due mesi e già alle prese con le sue prime manifestazioni canore. Nell’ultima parte del file ci sono delle note di richiamo.

Here the full song of an adult male

Adult birds of Marsh Warbler produce a complex song composed exclusively of dozens of imitations of songs and calls of other bird species, both of species found in Europe (nesting areas) and those found in South Est Africa (wintering quarters).

Gli adulti di Cannaiola verdognola producono un canto canto molto complesso, composto quasi esclusivamente da decine di imitazioni di canti e richiami di altre specie di uccelli, sia di specie presenti nell’areale di nidificazione europeo, sia nella zona si svernamento che si trova in Africa meridionale orientale.

PS – Audio files recorded using a DIY parabolic stereo microphone system.

Nightingale – Nocturnal Song

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Nightingale – Nocturnal Song
(Listening with headphones is a must!)

Ringed Bush-cricket Grasshopper – Rhacocleis annulata – FIRST RECORD FOR NORTHERN ITALY

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Ringed Bush-cricket , Rhacocleis annulata, 5 August 2019, first record for Northern Italy (using a Smartphone Huawei Y6ii)

Here the recording of the grasshopper Ringed Bush-cricket, Rhacocleis annulata, first record for Northern Italy, which produces a call that is difficult to hear without the aid of a bat detector.
The first ten phrases using a bat detector; the second ten phrases using a Zoom H1 and an AOM5024 PUI microphone.

Below a recording using an ultrasonic USB microphone Ultramic 384k by Dodotronic.

Seven prashes using USB microphone Ultramic 384k by Dodotronic, at different distances, set to mid gain.
Ultramic 384k recording distance: 0,5 meters – 2 meters – 8 meters

For comparison, I also made a recording using a Zoom H1 recorder and an external DIY stereo microphone system with 2x Primo EM172 capsules.
Despite having a decidedly higher self-noise than the EM172 capsule, the 384k has proved to be more suitable for recording high frequencies, as it was likely to be expected.

note: I didn’t cut the passage of the car to highlight the difference at low frequencies.
In the background Oecanthus pellucens and Eupholidoptera schimdti

Ultramic 384k Vs. 2x Primo EM172 capsule

details of the “cerci” of Rhacocleis annulata

details of the “cerci” of Rhacocleis germanica

Highlighted tipical rings of R. annulata

Spectrograms: above Rh. germanica max intensity 26000 Hz; below Rh. annulata max intensity 22300 Hz
Wave file: Rh. germanica Vs. Rh. annulata
Bushy habitat of Ringed Bush-cricket, Rhacocleis annulata, in the Eastern Po Valley

extremity of the abdomen with the spermathophylax that is the gelatinous mass

Grassy habitat of Ringed Bush-cricket, Rhacocleis annulata, in the Eastern Po Valley
Geographical location of the discovery from Google Maps
Map of distribution in Italy (modified)

I wish to thank my friends Cesare Brizio e Filippo Maria Buzzetti for helping me in recognizing the species.