9 Tracks — 80 minutes total
Who is not impressed by the night-choruses of insects … the myriad chirps, trills, shuffles and clicks of countless tiny crickets and katydids, invisible in the darkness? Singing from hiding places on the ground, in the grass, and in shrubs and trees, our insect musicians form choruses that range from gentle and meditative to cacophonous and unsettling. They can be heard nearly everywhere, in nearly every habitat, from mid-summer until the first frosts.
Insect Lullabies features nine recordings that lie at the mellow end of the spectrum … soothing nighttime soundscapes that encourage a relaxed state of mind. If played at low volume in a quiet setting, you are sure to be moved by these orchestras and derive the full benefits of their restorative effect on one’s body and mind.
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NOTE: This album is also featured in Pure Nature 3D Audio, a FREE app for Apple mobile devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.)
In late summer, near the height of the season of insect song, we visit Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, located in the Inner Banks region of North Carolina. A land of lakes, swamps and forest, the refuge is a mecca for wildlife of many types, including an impressive number of crickets and katydids.
Driving slowly along a dirt road at dusk, we stop next marshy area surrounded by swamp forest. Chuck-will’s-widows sound off in the distance and we hear the staccato c’tuck, c’tuck of carpenter frogs. The soundscape is dominated by crickets, several species giving long-continued musical trills and others more brief trills and chirps.
The total mix of bird, frog and insects sounds is quite pleasing to our ears, so we sit quietly in meditation for minutes on end, enjoying the spacious soundscape and feeling grateful that mosquitos are not part of it.
August 8, 1994 at 11pm. Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Pungo Unit, near Wenona, North Carolina. Recorded by Ted Mack.
Aravaipa Creek Chorus
In a remote desert area of southeastern Arizona, the beautiful Aravaipa Canyon offers a welcome respite from the arid mountains that surround it. During our first visit in late April, we explore the canyon’s year-round creek at dusk.
The sound of the water is overpowering at first, but we soon discover a relatively calm stretch where the stream sweeps against the base of an overhanging cliff, its gurgles echoing off hollowed rock. Crickets softly chirp and trill from nearby shrubs and trees. At one point, we hear the faint whinnies of an elf owl.
We fall in love with this special place and surrender to its magic. The tonic of wildness washes over us, calming and refreshing our innermost selves.
April 30, 2017 at 11pm. Aravaipa Creek, Nature Conservancy Cobra Ranch, near Klondyke, Arizona. Recorded by Lang Elliott.
Returning to Aravaipa Canyon in late May, we camp along Turkey Creek, a relatively dry tributary with small pools of water here and there. Although overwhelming at dusk, the insect insect chorus mellows considerably in the wee hours of morning, so we rouse ourselves from sleep in order to listen.
We rest quietly at the edge of the creek. Snowy tree crickets give rhythmic chirps while other crickets trill more or less continuously at higher pitches. Unknown creatures rustle in the leaves … small mammals we think. A times we hear the soft wing-flutter of flying bats, and at one point we just detect their high-pitched chips. Nasal squeaks? Those are the calls of an elf owl. Low buzzing? How about night-flying beetles?
We settle into the present moment. Our cares and concerns vanish. There is nothing but the Now.
May 24, 2017 at 3am. Turkey Creek tributary of Aravaipa Canyon, near Klondyke, Arizona. Recorded by Lang Elliott.
It is late August. In search of interesting insect choruses, we explore the Osceola National Forest in northern Florida, a sandy expanse dominated by pines and hardwoods, along with numerous swampy areas.
The insect chorus is rather dense, but nonetheless soothing to our ears. True katydids call raucously from all directions, while crickets trill and chirp. A lone screech owl cries mournfully in the distance and an angle-wing katydid gives high-pitched rattles from the treetops.
Such a beautiful southern insect chorus; we are delighted that we found it.
August 30, 2002 at 11pm. Osceola National Forest, near Lake City, Florida. Recorded by Wil Hershberger.
On a cool September night in remote area among the rolling hills of upstate New York, we discover a calming insect chorus in a brushy clearing surrounded by dense forest.
A light breeze blows against our faces. Snowy tree crickets give leisurely chirps from shrubs, while various other crickets trill from goldenrods, the ground, or from nearby trees. A lone barred owl hoots occasionally in the distance. Cupping our ears, we can just perceive the delicate high-pitched swishing trills of a meadow katydid.
With eyes closed, we enjoy this soothing and hypnotic insect chorus that gently lulls us into a restful, sleep-like state.
September 19, 2001 at 1am. Shindagin Hollow, near Brooktondale, New York. Recorded by Lang Elliott.
In early autumn, we spend several days in silent retreat, camping near the shore of Lake Ontario and enjoying the myriad sounds of the waves. At dusk, crickets begin singing from tall grass next to our camp. Clouds soon roll in from the lake, and it begins to rain, lightly at first but varying in intensity.
We stand in the wet grass and are captivated by the pleasant mix of rainfall and insect songs, set against the gentle whoosh of rain hitting the leaves of nearby trees. We glance at one another, but there is no impulse to speak. Such a lovely soundscape, working its magic on our minds.
September 3, 2017 at 11pm. Robert G. Wehle State Park, near Henderson Harbor, New York. Recorded by Lang Elliott.
Rio Grande Night Song
During a springtime trip to Big Bend National Park in southwestern Texas, we spend several nights camping along the Rio Grande River. At dusk, the night chorus of insects quickly swells.
We hike a trail that follows the river’s edge and soon come upon a shallow section of the river, where the water gurgles as it passes over a wide bed of stones. Crickets trill and chirp from a grassy clearing to one side of us, and a leopard frog chuckles intermittently.
Pleased by the soundscape, we lay down on a sandy beach, our eyes fixed on the heavens above, and our ears absorbing the healing music that surrounds us.
March 13, 2017 at 11:30pm. Rio Grande River near Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park. Recorded by Lang Elliott.
In mid-October, we visit Land Between the Lakes in western Kentucky and find a suitable place to camp next to a swamp. The evening is warm. As darkness falls, the insect chorus blossoms. It seems a bit subdued, mellowed perhaps by the lateness of the season.
A nearby stream gently burbles. The mournful cries of a distant coyote echo across the hills. Crickets trill and chirp. A barred owl hoots and soon we hear another in the distance. Then the owls come together, celebrating their reunion with an excited outburst of sounds.
We lay in our tent, yawning, and soon drift into a deep, refreshing sleep.
October 15, 2002 at 10pm. Land Between The Lakes, near Golden Pond, Kentucky. Recorded by Lang Elliott.
Insects & Wind
During the autumn months, the insect chorus in upstate New York gradually becomes muted, and then disappears entirely as freezing weather arrives. But on this windy night in early October, warm temperatures prevail and the insect chorus is surprisingly strong.
We walk along a well-worn trail at the edge of the forest. True katydids give raucous two-parted calls from high in the treetops. A tree cricket, hidden in a nearby shrub, gives repeated musical trills. We also hear the very high-pitched notes of cone-headed katydids, calling rapidly from tall grass. The wind comes and goes, adding a rich sense of spaciousness to the soundscape.
We are entranced by the insect chorus but know that its days are numbered. Soon the leaves will be falling, winter will take hold, and insect song will vanish from the soundscape … only the wind will remain.
October 3, 2014 at 11:30pm. Woodland edge on the outskirts of Ithaca, New York. Recorded by Lang Elliott.