A gentle rainstorm begins in a highland cloudforest.
It is late afternoon, and the mists swirling through the treetops are building to rain. At first, there is just a spattering of raindrops, but the precipitation grows and is soon falling steadily. The background whisper grows to a pervasive hiss, emanating from the foliage above as rain lands on the canopy and then falls, spattering off leaves and onto the forest floor.
After a while, the rain subsides, leaving the forest soaked and residual moisture still falling from overhead. With the quiet, birdsong returns.
And not just any birdsong. This recording was made in the high cloudforests of New Guinea, and many of the species you can hear are found nowhere else on the planet.
So prepare for a soaking in this unique environment.
Recording rain authentically is a challenge. The first problem is that its wet, and electrical equipment really doesn't like 100% humidity. Audio recorders are usually fairly robust, and can be tucked away in a bag. But microphones need to be open to the environment, and are far more sensitive. The majority of them can't handle tropical conditions, let alone full on rain - they snap and fizzle badly. The microphones I use (Sennheiser MKH8020s) perform perfectly in extremes of weather, as this recording demonstrates.
The second problem is that water drops hit things - like microphones - with a Thunk! The challenge is to shelter the microphones in a way that keeps direct rainfall off them, but allows open exposure to all the subtle sounds of water hitting leaves and the forest floor. Man-made materials, like plastic sheets, are useless because they're so audibly obvious.
On this occasion, I found a diagonally growing tree trunk, and sheltered the microphones under it, facing outwards to each side. The moss-covered trunk absorbed the rainfall, and kept the mics dry. Meanwhile, I was listening a little way off, and got well soaked!
released July 7, 2018
Camp 13 (scientific camp), reached from Boksavin village, Huon Peninsula, Papua New Guinea
Andrew is a master wildlife field recordist. For over 30 years, he and partner / photographer Sarah Koschak have been
documenting the voices of the world's ecosystems and wild creatures. The resulting recordings have been published through their dedicated label: Listening Earth...more