Music from Nature

In my camera bag I also carry a flashlight, to help me focus on subjects in poorly-lit areas -- and a digital recorder, for those times when all I have to go by is sound. In May 2006 I picked up a Olympus digital voice recorder after hearing the nighttime call of a Chuck-Will's-Widow. The following three recordings were all made on May 10, 2006.

I've identified amphibian songs thanks to Lang Elliott, NatureSound Studio and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

1. Chuck-Will's-Widows: My first attempt at recording these nightjars took me past an empty lot and up to a No Trespassing sign, still too close to traffic. Then I remembered our local VFW building, located considerably closer to the forest. We turned down an empty road. The VFW lot was empty save for a single car; through the window we could see a TV flickering. The birds were closer now. Mary sat by an outdoor table while I padded to the end of the asphalt and onto grass flattened from overflow parking.

2. Frogs at the "Post Office Pond": I've described the pond's frog chorus in my blog entry, "Retention Pond in C-Sharp Minor," but that had been back in August of 2005, not May. Although I did not hear any distinct calls of "Baby ... Baby ... Baby ..." this time, the frogs sounded very much like what we'd heard last year. Recorded on May 10, 2006. These are Green Treefrogs (Hyla cinerea). You can view one of our local treefrogs here.

3. Frogs at the Winn-Dixie Mall: These frogs, equally boisterous though not quite as melodic as the "post office pond" frogs, live in the retention pond between the strip mall and the county road. These are Squirrel Treefrogs (Hyla squirella).

4. St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery: Better audio than that in the rookery videos, from our visit to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park on May 16, 2006.

5. Post Office Pond Frogs, May 22: These calls are different from those we'd heard coming from the same location back on May 10. These are Barking Treefrogs (Hyla Gratiosa).

6. A Wild Time At the Post Office Pond: Recorded the night of June 10, 2006. The high, screaming trills come from Southern Toads (Bufo terrestris; I photographed this Southern Toad around the corner from our supermarket back in March). Added to those are Green Treefrogs and Barking Treefrogs.

7. Our Corner Retention Pond at 2AM: I recorded this fewer than 12 hours before Tropical Storm Alberto made landfall north of us on June 13, 2006. Even indoors, with doors and windows closed and watching the Weather Channel, I could occasionally hear the Southern Toads. I believe the underlying chorus includes Eastern Narrow-Mouthed Toads (Gastrophyrne Carolinensis) and possibly Bullfrogs (Rana Catesbeiana). The preceding deluge had filled the usually-dry retention pond, which can be seen here.

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© 2006, Elissa Malcohn Version 2, 2006-06-13
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