Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day 13: Dawn Chorus

Peters Hill, Arnold Arboretum, 6:30am - 8am
clear, thin puffs of clouds on the horizon, dewy

I take it all back! The birds, they are not lazy, they DO sing at dawn, when the weather is clear - you just have to find their feeding grounds.

..And did I ever today! Peters Hill (previously avoided because I thought it too manicured), is a local hot spot. The crab-apple and hawthorns on the east-side of the hill are a food mecca: the hillside was rife with robins, sparrows, woodpeckers, and others busily pecking at bright red berries and flitting from tasty tree to tasty tree.

The lauded dawn chorus does exist in the fall, even if it's cheep-ier and less songful than spring. Phew. Nice to know that my recent structure of: 1) Sunrise; 2)Wait 30 minutes, maybe do situps, maybe stare blankly into space; 3) Find Birds Awake and Calling; is not the only option.

I wonder if the same logic is at hand with the phenomenon of many more singing birds around residential areas than in the wooded parks. Are landscaping trees and shrubs generally tastier than pine forest fare?

It was a gorgeous dawn. The east side of Peters Hill has a fairly good view to a distant tree-lined ridge, though it's a shoe-soaking tramp in long dewy grasses to get there. I'll take it - it's still much more accessible than my dream sunrise spot in Blue Hills Reservation, some 7 miles and a hike away. One of these days...

Minutes before dawn (when my shoes were still dry), I was stopped in my tracks by two or three very tonal birds in the rushes (bamboo?) along the path. They are the Birds of the Day:

Just how tonal were they? Listen closely for the cadence after two regular calls:

My rendition of the birdcall and cadence (careful, it's loud):

Of course, I can't resist a musical prompt with such distinct pitches. My original idea was to whistle and play; unfortunately, I can't whistle high enough. Yet.

Here is a snippet of an improvisation based on the bird-call:

*UPDATE 10/20 Today's bird was a White-Throated Sparrow. Thanks to Nate and Haynes for the ID!*


At October 13, 2010 at 10:34 PM , Blogger Sebastian said...

Shaw Pong, I'm inspired by this project, and i look forward to hearing more!
Beautiful improvisation from today. Cheers, Sebastian

At October 16, 2010 at 8:51 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Awesome! Have you thought of using the birds to segue into your own piece - as opposed to separate tracks? Just an idea...


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