Monday, October 18, 2010

Day 18: Twilight Adventure

Dorchester Park, Dorchester, and Governor Hutchinson's Field, the Reserve, Milton, MA, 5:45pm-6:45pm
cool, breezy, cloud-strewn sky

I enjoyed the sunrise this morning, but it was a moving target from my New Jersey to Penn Station train. No birds on board.

It was a packed day (New York to Boston and then straight to work), and I worried that I would miss my first day of this project.

Fortunately, it was still light out when I finished teaching - the sun was just setting, and I hurried over to Dorchester Park next door. What I had presumed to be a one block little area turned out to be several times larger, complete with ball fields and tennis courts, and I enjoyed finding this enclave of squirrels:

But I couldn't hear any birds.

A man in a Bruins sweatshirt walking three small dogs chatted me up, and after the customary "Is that a violin?" and "You out of high school?", I mentioned that my audio recorder and I were in search of a bird.

He must have been my angel, for he excitedly told me about a nature reserve close by, where at this time of the day, the birds would be going to sleep and going "crrockkk".

I thanked him, but didn't really believe: the woods we were in were completely quiet except for squawky squirrels. Besides, I'd never heard of a nature reserve in Dorchester. The sun had fully set, I couldn't hear even faint cheeps, and I felt like I was about to get an "F" on my own project.

It seemed too late and too dark, but I hopped on my bike anyhow, recorder on standby, and headed towards the nature reserve.

It's getting darker and darker, cars have their headlights on, I've crossed into Milton, am huffing up a hill. At the top of a hill, a big meadow backed by woods. This must be it..

I bike down the meadow path towards the trees, and see water glinting further down. Following goose honks and a murmuring of birds, I leave my bike by the trail, and crash through the rather dark woods towards the water. I arrive at the pebbly shore of a small lagoon: motor boats docked to the far left, and a giant reedy marsh opposite me.

Geese are arriving to the water, and the distant reeds are full of what sounds like hundreds of birds. The Bruins man was right!

I'm charmed by the twilit scene: the distant but audible presence of a symphony of birds, and the reflective beauty of the water (which is literally reflecting both sound and light). I pull out my violin and interact a little with my environment:

My Bird of the Day then flies overhead, a large black silhouette with curved wingtips, all the while caaawing. Really large, maybe some kind of hawk or eagle? Or just a solo goose? I'm afraid it's not a pure recording: I was really getting into my birdcall practicing and overlapped a lot with him. Can you tell who gets the last word in?

*UPDATE 10/23: Those are Canada Geese at the lake, and very likely a Great Blue Heron as my birdcall companion at the end. Thanks, Haynes! *


At October 19, 2010 at 9:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shaw Pong: This is an awesome project. I love it!



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