While sifting through recordings yesterday, I came across my all-time favorite coyote outburst, captured shortly before dawn in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, way back in 2011. I was with fellow recordist Ted Mack. We set up camp at the Cade’s Cove campground, but didn’t retire after dark like all the other campers. Instead, we rushed off to hike the 10-mile loop road (which is closed at night for cars), stopping here and there in hopes of recording something interesting.
It was early April. The half moon came and went. I well remember walking for hours on end with my recorder dangling around my neck and my tripod and soundscape mic bouncing on my shoulder. While we heard distant barred owls and a faint whip-poor-will or two, very little was happening sound-wise and we soon grew tired and disappointed. With no night sounds to excite us, and a hint of morning light appearing to the east, we finally decided to record the gurgling of a small brook and the gradual unfolding of dawn.
Ted headed downstream and I soon found a nice spot upstream, where I carefully placed my soundscape mic and then lay down on a large, flat stone. Soon, I found myself dozing … and that’s when the magic fell upon me. Without warning, a lone coyote gave a long drawn-out howl from the hill above, and then another joined-in from a different direction, its higher pitched howls sliding upward in tone. Then the two broke into a more animated exchange, their excited calls interweaving, overlapping, and echoing through the thick forest. And as suddenly as it began, the Coyote concert drew to end, melting away into the incessant gurgle of the brook, just as freshly-awakened songbirds began ushering in the dawn.
Needless to say, I was elated. I lay there for minutes on end, soaking in the bird song. Not long after, Ted showed up, having captured his version of the same soundscape. Though weary from our long night of walking, we sauntered back into camp with smiles on our faces, and then collapsed into our sleeping bags, just as everyone else was rising to greet the new day … such is the life of those who record the voices of the natural world!
Below is an extended version of the recording, featuring not only the coyote outburst, but also the dawn chorus that followed. Be sure to listen with headphones for a really wonderful 3D immersion experience.
Coyote outburst with stream gurgle. Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 6:00 am, 11 April 2011. © Lang Elliott.
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