Who’s having Goose for Christmas Dinner?

I often think (in reality I know) that the modern world conspires against wildlife sound recordists.


A few days ago, with a favourable weather forecast, I headed off to Druridge Bay in Northumberland hoping to record some more wildfowl. When you’re in your sixties, it gets harder and harder to summon up the energy to roll out of a comfortable warm bed and head out into the December chill at 5 am, but almost always it’s worth the effort. I arrived at the hide, crawled out in the dark and placed the microphones, and all was well – not much surf or traffic noise. A few thousand Pink-footed geese were roosting just 50 metres from my mics, and all was set for the grand take-off.

But as I feared, as they were getting ‘edgy’ at 7.30am, a kind turbo-prop plane flew over, and the low frequency engine noise spooked the geese and off they went – several hours of personal effort ruined by a transient feature of 21st century technology. Something you probably wouldn’t notice if you weren’t also armed with hundreds of pounds worth of 21st century recording gear.

All of which meant that another trip was required. Weather conditions on 22nd December looked good, so up and out I went at 5am. The birds were there, but being retired, I’d forgotten that this was a Saturday, and slow moving headlights on the edge of the nature reserve reminded me that this was shooting season. Wildfowlers were gathering.

The birds were late to lift. 8am. But the sound was fantastic as they flew, as planned, right over my mics, only to be met by a volley of shotguns.


I have an OK recording, and I guess someone is having goose for Christmas dinner.

Sorry – problem with link so here are some pink-feet from a few days later!

PS a big thank you to the anonymous gentleman with the lovely springer spaniel, who arrived just minutes before the geese took off and responded to my entreaties for silence at the critical moment. Merry Christmas!