Veery singing in the rain. 6am, 20 May 2000, Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, near Raintown, West Virginia. © Lang Elliott. Photo courtesty Thomas R. Fletcher. Please set volume low-ish for a natural listening experience.
Having posted an intimate recording of a Veery about a week ago (Very Veery), I found myself thinking about all the other Veery recordings I’ve made through the years … and which one is my favorite. It took but an instant for me to arrive at a conclusion.
In the spring of the year 2000, I went on a recording expedition devoted to gathering dawn choruses. For the most part it was a flop. Storm systems followed me wherever I went and made it nearly impossible for me to get the pristine choruses I desired.
Having been frustrated by incessant rain and wind in the Smoky Mountains area, I decided to head home. Driving north into Virginia, I took a detour into the mountains to visit Cranberry Glades Botanical Area near Marlinton, West Virginia. What a wonderful spot … a flat, swampy area nestled high among the mountains, with a long boardwalk that loops through a glade.
Arriving early in the morning of May 20, I was delighted that the rain had stopped, so I grabbed my soundscape microphone and headed down the trail. Soon I was on the boardwalk enjoying the natural beauty, but there was a paucity of bird song. “Oh well … what did you expect?” I thought, and continued along the loop, soon heading back toward my car. And that is when I heard the ventriloquial singer, sounding off from a thick patch of rhododendrons not far off the trail. I quickly set up my gear and hit record. Simultaneously, it began raining again. “Oh no!” was my initial response, but fortunately I was sheltered under a large hemlock and soon found myself entranced by the sound coming through my headphones.
What a nice mix! A true “zen” recording … the raindrops hitting the rhododenron leaves all around and the Veery gently singing and calling from the thicket. It seems a perfect balance of two primary sound elements (raindrop and Veery), augmented by the the weak songs of a distant warbler (anyone recognize it?). At the end, a Blue-headed Vireo joins in.
I consider this is one of my most pleasurable “species-portrait” soundscapes, and it is significant that it materialized when I least expected it. The moral of the story for me? … “Lang, never ever leave your soundscape mic behind, even when you think there is little chance of obtaining a nice recording!”.
NOTE: The wonderful photo of the boardwalk at Cranberry Glades Botanical Area was graciously provided by nature photographer Thomas R. Fletcher. The Veery featured in my recording was likely somewhere very near to where Thomas took his photo.
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