When I got home from work tonight, I was greeted by two squirrels arguing with each other. They were both young and, I suppose, new to the neighborhood. And as young, tough squirrels are apt to do, they were going about claiming their respective trees as their territories. All well and good, except that apparently the two trees were too close to each other. A back-and-forth of angry squirrel calls ensued.
I stood their in my driveway a few moments to listen, when all of a sudden it hit me -- I have a field recorder. I run inside, search high and low for my field kit, and scramble to get the furry exchange on tape.
It was too late, sort of. Only one squirrel remained when I came back outside, but he was proclaiming his victory with several calls. So I recorded the little dude in the tree across the street.
To my surprise, the tape was rather worthless when I listened back to it. You see, there was a songbird nearby, calling on top of the squirrel. It turns out that the recording is dominated by the bird, so as a squirrel recording, it was a mistake.
But mistakes are opportunities too, right?
I set about trying to mix the songbird out from the squirrel recording. Now, I'm no expert at mixing, and it shows. I wasn't able to take out the birdsong... But I was able to take out everything else! Without realizing it, I recorded a songbird instead of a squirrel. Here is a bit of the recording -- first comes the raw tape, followed by the isolated songbird.
I guess there's a few field recording lessons here. First, listen to the environment before pressing record. Second, it's easier to isolate a strong sound than a weak sound in the mix. Third, stay open to possibilities.
Well, there you go.