Well, it wasn’t quite the Four Seasons, but it was at least two…
Late August, two nights after full moon and we are all set for our 12 hour overnight recording; the weather report indicates clear sky, we have postponed once already due to inclement conditions, and we are full of excitement.
Our destination is the star deck at Tulela Safari Lodge in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, Greater Kruger. Our sound equipment guru, Neville Smithers, has come up from Joburg to joins us – his car, too, laden with recording equipment. Soon we have microphone systems set up on the deck, on the back of the vehicle, several in the surrounding bush (including one named Yorick) chained to trees to hopefully deter hyena and/or elephants from wandering off with them.
The deck is beautifully set up for us – beds with soft linen, mosquito nets, tables, chairs, lamps – our every need has been well taken care of.
One of the recorders set up on the deck.
Yorick set up in the bush.
We settle down to listen through our headsets, as the moon rises both African Scops and White-faced owls start calling followed shortly afterwards by the first Fiery-necked Nightjar. By 22.00 the moon is right above us and it is amazing how much we can see. Amplified through the earphones the nightjar sounds like it is calling right above us from the huge Knobthorn tree that the deck is built around. The tiny African Scops Owls have been calling continuously for several hours almost without a break and various hyenas give a series of whoops and giggles. We hear a leopard in the distance and responding impala alarm snorts. This going to be quite a night!
Early night sounds from the deck
Suddenly at 23.00 season two arrived – the weather report lied – and a howling gale came out of absolutely nowhere and blew fiercely for the rest of the night. Within minutes our mosquito nets (which we had foolishly untucked for ease of movement) blew high up into the Knobthorn, the chairs toppled over, the tablecloth whipped up and dumped the table contents on the deck.
The rest of the night was spent hanging onto the duvet or chasing it around the deck – little sleep was had.
Finally dawn broke – and the wind was still blowing – we packed up our gear; collected the bush-rigs, wondering if we would get to say “Alas, poor Yorick…” but thankfully everything was where we left it and quite unscathed by the gale.
We have some wonderful night recordings to go through – even though cut short by the weather. In the meantime, if any film makers are looking for gale force wind audio, we have about 6 hours!
Many thanks to Tulela Safari Lodge for generously hosting us and giving us the opportunity to record overnight.