Organ Pipe National Monument © Lang Elliott

IN LATE MARCH, accompanied by my friend and fellow recordist Christine Hass of Wild Mountain Echoes, I spent nearly a week recording at Organ Pipe National Monument, in extreme southern Arizona next to the Mexican border. The Monument is an International Biosphere Preserve and is named after the Organ Pipe cactus, a Mexican species that only ranges in the United States in this area.

Organ Pipe National Monument.

Organ Pipe Cactus © Lang Elliott

We camped in the Alamo Canyon Campground, which afforded good access to typical Sonoran Desert habitats. Located at the base of the canyon, the campground is characterized by a healthy population of Saguaro, Organ Pipe, Cholla and Prickly Pear cacti, along with Mesquite, Palo Verde, Creosote Bush, Brittle Bush, and Ocotillo.

I had very good luck recording in and around Alamo Canyon, both during the day and the night. Seven of my favorite soundscapes are featured below:

Alamo Canyon Dawn Chorus: A typical Sonoran Desert dawn soundscape. Listen for the songs and calls of Gila Woodpecker, bees, Gambel’s Quail, Mourning Dove, House Finch, Phainopepla, and Northern Mockingbird. Recorded near an old corral, about a mile upstream from the campground. 7:45am, 26 March 2017.

Owls of Alamo Canyon: A nighttime soundscape featuring the calls of three owls found in the Sonoran Desert region: Elf Owl, Western Screech-Owl, and Great Horned Owl. Listen also for the calls of a Common Poorwill. Recorded a short distance upstream from the campground. 4am, 26 March, 2017.

Quail in the Wash: Featuring the repeated plaintive calls of a Gambel’s Quail, along the the periodic coos of two Roadrunners (one near and one far). Listen also for the buzz of bees, songs of House Finches, croaks of a Common Raven, plus calls of both Gila Woodpecker and Gilded Flicker. Recorded in the dry wash next to the campground. 7:30am, 25 March 2017.

Organ Pipe National Monument © Lang Elliott

Oriole and Bees: A brief yet superbly immersive binaural sound portrait of a Scott’s Oriole, feeding in a flowering mesquite full of buzzing honeybees. Recorded in the dry wash next to the campground. 9am, 26 March, 2017. Listen over headphones for an optimal spatial effect!

Cactus Wind Song: An amazing and spacious soundscape celebrating the unique hissing sound of gusting wind rushing across the spines of an Organ Pipe Cactus. Recorded right next to the campground. 1pm, 30 March 2017. I really love this recording … please listen over headphones or earbuds if possible for the best spatial effect.

Organ Pipe National Monument © Lang Elliott

Cactus Wren and Friends: A portrait of a singing Cactus Wren, with a Northern Mockingbird sounding off in the background. Listen also for the coos of a Mourning Dove. Recorded just a few hundred feet from our camp. 7:30 am, 26 April 2017.

Flycatcher Dawn Song: A portrait of an Ash-throated Flycatcher singing in the twilight of dawn. Listen also for whimpers of Elf Owls as well as distant songs of Poorwill and Mourning Dove. Recorded along the trail not far upstream from the campground. 5:45am, 26 March 2017.

The above recordings are just a small sampling of all the wonderful sound impressions I captured at Organ Pipe. Now my challenge is to pull together a podcast celebrating the Sonoran Desert region … hopefully to be published within a week or two! As you might guess, it’s very difficult to be out there day and night doing the field work, while also managing to share my adventures with world at large!

Until next time … Adios amigos!
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