My desire for years has been to record different 'voices' of moving water, small streamlets, wide, shallow rivers, cascades with deep pools, etc. Also, recording insect and bird vocalizations have been another recording interest.
What would be the best setup for doing this kind of field work, and what kind of cost would I be investing in this new hobby?
I have really enjoyed some of the sound samples I have heard here, they are great to listen to while sitting here at work!
Well, the "best" can be hard to define.
The most important factor is budget ofcourse. But before we start a whole run thru of the expensive options out there i would suggest you get a small minidisc recorder perhaps even 2nd hand. And a simple stereo microphone like a sony ecm series like this one: http://www.atbatt.com/product/ItemID/3180.asp
the Media is cheap and you get pretty cool results. ITs a great way to get started for about 200 bucks.
If then you want more (pretty likely you can improve part by part by for example getting a HDD recorder (ranging from 500 dollars up to 2000 or even 10000 dollars) and a collection of mic's (shotgun mike's etc).
however i doubt yo uwill throw away the basic MD setup i just mentioned because its an excellent run and gun thing. Very small and light.
kind of unorthodox way to record water that might yield interesting results: make a contact mic (quick and dirty contact mic) and submerge it in liquid latex. it'll be completely waterproof and you can then put it in a stream or whatever and make a recording.