Closeup of Trek 520 touring bike with handlebar bag and saddlebag, leaning on a bridge guardrail, bushes in background.

Uguisu

While cycling in the countryside on June 15, 2014, I turned off Shiga Route 32 in Yasu to explore the farmland and see Yanomunegawa (Yanomune River), a small stream that meanders through Yasu to Lake Biwa. Along the way I heard the voices of uguisu (Japanese bush warbler), along with blackbirds, pigeons, and crows. An uguisu was calling from a large bush near a small bridge that crosses the river at Hiruta (map).

Small bridge, wide angle with bridge to upper left, lush greenery in background.

Unnamed bridge on Yanomunegawa in Hiruta, Yasu, Shiga, Japan.

I recorded the uguisu from the bridge with a Sony PCM-M10 recorder. The wind was pretty strong, so I put the recorder in my handlebar bag with the mics and AD-PCM2 windscreen protruding. At first I leaned my bike against the guardrail and used it as a mic stand.

Touring bike on small bridge, river with lush greenery, mountains in background.

Trek 520 at Yanomune River, Mikamiyama in background

The wind was strong and background noise was heavy. In this relatively quiet place on a Sunday I could hear airplanes, powered paragliders, and some agricultural sounds. I gave up and spent an hour or so exploring the area.

It was a little quieter when I returned at about 13:30. This time I removed the handlebar bar and put it on the ground. Finally I was able to make the recording that I posted on SoundCloud.

View of small river from middle of narrow bridge, with bushes on left and bike handlebar bag lower left in font of guardrail.

Recording uguisu with Sony PCM-M10 in bike handlebar bag on unnamed bridge over Yanomunegawa

I processed the audio file with Audacity on a CentOS (Linux) workstation. Even in the quietest three minutes that I could find, low frequency background noise was heavy and broad. Noise reduction reduced much of the background noise, but it introduced unwelcome artifacts, and noise could be heard when birds’ calls were loud. After some experimentation, I gave up noise reduction and applied a high-pass filter beginning at 1200Hz, with a 6dB/octave roll-off and Q of 0.7.

The little Sony PCM-M10 makes decent recordings, but the AD-PCM2 windscreen is inadequate by itself. This recorder needs better wind protection. Noise is a more serious issue. I can’t do much about it, but I’ll keep searching for quieter places here in Shiga Prefecture.

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