Spring Peepers calling gently at Ladyslipper Pond. 4:45am, 24 May 2016. Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area near Ithaca, New York. © Lang Elliott. Please play at a low volume to simulate a natural listening experience.
Last night, I decided to sleep under the stars. I made my way to Ladyslipper Pond, a favorite spot where Pink Ladyslippers bloom. I quickly set up camp under a large hemlock and then placed my soundscape mic about twenty feet away. I remember thinking, “maybe an owl will pay a visit in the middle of the night, and I want to be ready”.
The night proved uneventful. No owl visitations. But it was beautiful, with the bright, slightly waning moon throwing patches of light on the forest floor. I remember awakening at around 3am and staring out over the pond. Although I was no more than a few miles from civilization, the scene appeared remote and wild. I couldn’t hear any traffic, jets, or dogs barking. I imagined that I was the only person in the entire wildlife area sleeping on the ground and gazing up at the stars.
At first light, I placed one of my mic setups near the outlet to Ladyslipper Pond, at a position where the gurgle of water can be heard, though not too loudly. The beginning of of that recording is featured above. Spring Peepers sound off from the edge of the pond and at several points the soft nasal calls of a drake Mallard can be heard. I find this recording meditative in effect.
As light came to the forest, I took my second soundscape microphone and went searching for birds. What was a gentle breeze soon began to escalate. At first I was discouraged, but then I homed-in on a Wood Thrush, singing at a fairly rapid pace as the wind increased or decreased in the canopy above. Worth recording? You bet!
I like this recording, which is soft on the ears (Wood Thrushes often jangle one’s brain with loud notes). About halfway through, an alarmed White-tailed Deer bounds away … a short time later, you can hear it snorting in the distance. In the last half of the recording, a woodpecker drums and then a Barred Owl hoots. At the end, there is the tentative clatter of a Gray Treefrog. What sounds nice to my ears is when the woody moves to a distant perch off to one side, adding considerable depth to the listening experience.
Altogether, it was a fine morning, wind and all. I am so grateful that I spent the night under the stars and returned home with these pleasant soundscapes, living mementos of my sojourn in the woods.
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