Journey Highlights #2 – Tallgrass Prairie

Taberville Prairie, SW Missouri, © Lang Elliott

From August 1-2, I visited two tallgrass prairie locations in southwestern Missouri. One favorite spot is Taberville Prairie Conservation Area, a beautiful refuge with a sweeping view from the parking lot. About an hour to the west, the Prairie State Park also sports wonderful expanses of prairie grasses. In this blog post, I’ll share my favorite recordings from this portion of my recording expedition.

Journey Highlights #1 – Missouri River

view from ridge above missouri river

I arrived in Missouri on the evening of July 28. I spent the night sleeping in my tent in a beautiful hardwood forest along a ridge overlooking the Missouri River. Awakening at first light, I was completely surprised by the rich chorus of Wood Thrushes, sounding off from all directions …

July Robin-Song

Shindagin Hollow habitat

This morning I arrived at Shindagin Hollow around 4:30am. It was dead quiet. I walked into the forest and made my way to a small stream, which turned out to be near-dry, with only scattered stagnant pools. I sat on a large log that spanned the stream. I had no particular expectations with regard to recording birds. Maybe a gentle chorus of distant, scattered singers? Maybe no bird song? It’s mid-July and the soundscape was almost certain to be muted …

Spring Pond Bog

Spring Pond Bog Habitat 1300px © Lang Elliott

Over the Fourth of July holiday, Bob McGuire and I spent two days at Spring Pond Bog, a wonderful Nature Conservancy preserve in a remote area of the Adirondack Mountains near the village of Tupper Lake. Our trip was rejuvenating and we experienced great pleasure in once again hearing the magical and utterly sublime bogland soundscape …

Field Sparrow Dawn Song

Field Sparrow Habitat © Lang Elliott

This season I’ve tried time and again to get a super-pleasing portrait of a Field Sparrow singing its exquisite dawn song. But try as I might, I was unable to beat the portrait I captured on May 22, way back in 2009 …

Bluebird Talkings

Bluebird Habitat at Land Between the Lakes, KY ©  Lang Elliott

The song of the Eastern Bluebird is a delight to the ear, a series of bright, musical warbled phrases sounding like cheer … cheerily … cheer-cheerful-charmer. Females occasionally sing and sometimes answer their mate’s song with their own. Of special interest is the bluebird’s “dawn song,” an excited series of song phrases often preceded by staccato chit calls …

Twilight Song of the Wood-Pewee

Forest canopy at dawn

This morning at 4:00am, I arrived at my destination and within ten minutes I was standing quietly in mature hardwood forest, awaiting the first twilight notes from an Eastern Wood-Pewee that I had located the day before. At 4:25am, I heard a single, whistled pee-a-wee from perhaps a hundred feet away. I moved through the woods in the direction of the sound …

Reverberant Robin

Grand Tetons by Lang Elliott

While browsing through recordings I gathered in 2011 during an expedition to the Rock Mountain region, I stumbled across a real jewel that I had totally forgotten about. In the foothills of the Grand Tetons near Jackson Lake, Wyoming, I recorded a dawn chorus that features a lone American Robin singing in the distance. The robin’s songs are highly reverberant, due to the mixing of echoes off the surrounding hills … a clear demonstration of how a bird’s song becomes married to its environment …


Whip-poor-will  © Wil Hershberger

During my recent recording expedition, I spent the night next to a swamp in Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky. I rose promptly at 4am in the morning, jumped into my car, and headed for a favorite spot around ten miles away. I had only driven a mile or two when I suddenly came upon a Whip-poor-will, its eyes shining red in the middle of the dirt road. He flew as I got out of the car, but soon began singing from the surrounding forest. I grabbed my gear and walked in his direction …

Barred Owl Reunion

Maumee Wetlands

During my recent recording expedition, I spent the night camped next to a lake in the Charles C. Beam Wilderness Area near Maumee, Indiana. At 3am, a Barred Owl began calling nearby and soon another answered in the distance. Then, to my absolute delight, the two met up in the forest and participated in “caterwauling,” an excited exchange of hoots and hollers that I believe to be a celebration of family life. How could they not be having fun?

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