Boris Veprintsev ‘Oiseaux des Plaines Russes’ [Birds of the Russian Plain]

Boris Veprintsev LP front cover
Boris Veprintsev LP back cover
Boris Veprintsev LP side A
Boris Veprintsev in the field

A cryogenics and nerve cells specialist, Russian biophysicist Boris Nikolayevich Veprintsev (1928-1990) started recording Soviet birds on homemade equipment in 1957 while studying at Moscow University, undertaking annual birding expeditions throughout the country, a habit he kept almost until his death. Veprintsev collected thousand recordings documenting the Soviet avifauna as well as mammals, fishes, amphibians and insects of the East European Plain region, including rare and now extinct species. His first LP, Morning in the Forest, was published in 1960, with the approval of Khrushchev himself, though Veprintsev’s family had been harassed by the Soviet regime, and Boris’ father sent to the gulag in the 1940s. Veprintsev subsequently published as many as 28 LPs (according to this source), amounting to over 500 bird voices. He founded the Soviet Archive of Wildlife Sounds of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1973, located in Puschino-on-Oka, 120 km south of Moscow, where Veprintsev worked as head of the Academy’s Laboratory of Biophysics of nerve cells from 1966.

Melodiya LP box setMelodiya LP box setMelodiya LP box setMelodiya LP box set

This French LP from the Le Chant du Monde label is meant as an introduction to Veprintsev’s recorded legacy, though it is not clear if this is from one original Melodiya LP or culled from Veprintsev’s archives. The liner notes, obviously by Veprintsev himself, describe with great details the location of the recordings in the Russian Plain area: the Ryazan district, the Oka, Pra and Syr Darya rivers, the Meshchera lowlands, towns of Pereiaslav and Spasskoye-Lutovinov. Mostly recorded during yearly floods of the aforementionned rivers, when the entire land is submerged and bird cries resonate miles around, these aural documents have a unique sound quality, unknown from, say, British and French bird recordings conducted in dense bushes among impenetrable thickets of vegetation – i.e.: non-resonant. Some of the birds recorded here seem like giant creatures, larger than they actually are, thanks to a wide scenic panorama.

  1. Rook – Corbeau Freux (Corvus frugilegus) 2:12
  2. European Robin – Rouge-gorge (Erithacus rubecula) 4:17
  3. Song Thrush – Grive musicienne (Turdus philomelos) 4:29
  4. Chaffinch – Pinson des Arbres (Fringilla coelebs) 3:18
  5. Eurasian Crane – Grue Cendrée (Grus grus) 3:08
  6. Common Snipe – Bécassine des Marais et al (Gallinago gallinago) 3:41
  7. Grey Heron – Héron Cendré (Ardea cinerea) 2:33
  8. Northern Lapwing – Vanneau Huppé (Vanellus vanellus) 4:58
  9. Wood Warbler – Pouillot Siffleur (Phylloscopus sibilatrix) 3:01
  10. Chiffchaff – Pouillot Véloce (Phylloscopus collybita) 1:37
  11. Thrush Nightingale – Rossignol Progné (Luscinia luscinia) 5:18
  12. Mistle Thrush – Grive Draine (Turdus viscivorus) 4:24

Total time 42:55
LP released by Le Chant du Monde, France, 1982


B.N. Veprintsev discography (tbc):
1960 Morning in the Forest, LP, Melodiya
1966 Voices of Birds in the Nature, 5xLP, Melodiya
1980 Voices of Birds in the nature. vol. 2 (rec. 1960), Melodiya
1982 Birds of the Soviet Union: A Sound Guide, 3xLP,  Melodiya
1987 Birds of the Soviet Union: A Sound Guide, 7xLP, Melodiya

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8 Responses to “Boris Veprintsev ‘Oiseaux des Plaines Russes’ [Birds of the Russian Plain]”

  1. 1 peter November 16, 2010 at 6:51 am

    can you possibly re-up FEAR DROP #13. the link is dead. thank you.

  2. 2 continuo November 16, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Sure. What do you have to offer for the blog as a trade?

  3. 3 -sto November 18, 2010 at 11:13 am

    some of the birds mentioned in the post have obviously landed here:

  4. 4 continuo November 18, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Just fantastic. I was not aware of this post. Thanks a lot, my friend.

  5. 5 Grumpy February 4, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Wonderful, thank you! I lived in the USSR for a while – but in a big city, not in the countryside, and I don’t remember the birds… All the best, Grumpy

  6. 6 continuo February 4, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Thanks for your comment.

  7. 8 continuo September 28, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Hi. Interesting blog and portal. Go ahead.

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