After covering noise pollution for the past 2 months, it was about time I try out soundscape ecology for myself and actually see how prominent the effects of noise pollution are!
In my second blog post, I mentioned how noise pollution affects birds. They change the pitch of their calls to make themselves heard or when it gets unbearable, they leave their habitat. My hypothesis going into this mini experiment is that noise pollution has a negative impact on birds, and the variable I used to measure negative impact was frequency of calls. A lower frequency of calls would mean that there are either fewer birds in the area or the birds intentionally stayed silent (perhaps to wait for the noise to pass or because they figured out it is unlikely that their calls would be heard). Birds were the most accessible animal to me because of how widespread they are in Singapore, that’s why I specifically picked them for my project.
Ideally, I would need an acoustic monitor to record sounds over at least 24 hours, but as a soundscape beginner I had to work with what I had. The closest I could get to a recording device is my phone, but I didn’t have a way to translate the recording into a visual (oscillograms/spectrograms), so I decided to just manually tally each time I heard a bird call. I visited two noisy areas and two quieter areas across a few days during 7am-9am (when birds are most active), and stayed at each spot for 30 mins to record down bird calls. I then took the average number of calls per minute and compared the frequency.
Dr Coleman recommended me Jermain Cho and Cheong Hui Ping’s past studies and I took some inspiration for locations from them. They mainly visited green spaces near airports so I decided to visit Changi Beach Park, which is the closest I could get to Changi Airport (without trespassing). For my second noisy spot, I decided to pick a construction site near my home where a train station was being built, with large trees nearby (so I could ensure that there were birds in that area).
For the two quieter areas, I decided to go with green spaces that I knew had fairly little human activity. Labrador nature reserve was my first quiet spot and my second spot was lower pierce reservoir. For both areas, I kind of just wandered deep into the trail and sat there for 30 mins. To be honest, it was a little creepy sitting alone in the middle of a dark, quiet trail (I was literally the only person there the entire time), but I guess it’s good to get away from all the noise once in a while. I am not even kidding when I say all I heard were birds, squirrels and a TON of cicadas, no traffic noise at all.
Next week I will be discussing the results and findings so stay tuned 🙂