I came across this project http://www.yellowhammers.net/ a while back and decided to try and get some recordings to help with their research. It's a really interesting project by a group of Czech ornithologsts and ecologists which is studying the different dialects yellowhammers have in different locations. This page tells you how to differentiate the various types of song http://www.yellowhammers.net/about .. just click on "how can you recognize its song". Thanks to John Webley for the above photo! Here's his website http://www.15acresinkent.com/
The best place to find yellowhammers is generally in the countryside in hedgerows and bushes near farmland so I headed to a patch of farmland near Gifford just south of Edinburgh. I arrived at around 4.00am and at around 5.00 I heard some males singing from the top of a beech hedge. Due to the fact that the recordings were going to be analyzed by the ' yellow hammer dialects' project's technicians I thought the best style of recording would be mono and with my parabolic reflector so the song was as isolated as possible from any surrounding noise.
I set up my mics and reflector on a tripod as close as I could get to one of the singing males. Yellowhammers have a high pitched ‘chitty-chitty-chitty…sweee’ song which is often characterized as the phrase 'little bit of bread and no cheese'. In many dialects you should add an additional 'please' to the end of this phrase. Here's the recording I got so see what you think. I've included a spectrogram of the song which is in the 'BC' dialect.
It was actually quite difficult to get a decent recording as the yellowhammers would often flit from one perch to another and would only sing for short periods from each position. The reflector is also very directional so I had to keep adjusting it. I always find it a difficult decision when recording wildlife whether to stay in one position or to chase the subject. In this case very carefully and slowly following the yellowhammers and then backing off and hiding when one started to sing seemed to get the best results when using a reflector.
Here's a link to some more info on yellowhammers http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/y/yellowhammer/index.aspx