Friday, April 29, 2011

Spring 41: Drizzle-Free

5:30am-7:20am, campsites and Sundew Trail, Schoodic Point, Acadia National Park, ME
little cracks in the rain clouds, cool

What a difference the weather makes!

It’s my first non-drizzly morning on the Schoodic Peninsula, and everywhere is much livelier than the previous two mornings. I recorded two more hermit thrushes to compare to my Mt. Desert Island (MDI) thrush, and a couple winter wrens – the next transcription challenge!

I’m very curious to understand why the MDI hermit thrush was so regular (every four phrases matching), and why, so far, others are not. I blame Donald Kroodsma, author of the remarkable book, The Singing Life of Birds, for inspiring me to understand each individual’s unique birdsong. His book has also convinced me that to mix birdsongs from two different territories together would result in an unfaithful portrait, so here I go looking for individuals from the same area to learn more closely. I may have bitten off more than I can chew...!

By the trailhead, several black-and-white warblers bounce about, and I am entranced by the song of a purple finch, a beautiful bird with a rose-colored head.

Here he is, the bird of the day:

The sun finally came out later this morning, and I took a long lunch break for a gorgeous solo hike along the Anvil Trail to Schoodic Head, the highest point on the Peninsula (440 feet). Lots of stunning ocean, bay, and Mt. Desert Island views – all to myself.

I feel utterly spoiled – my second sunny picnic of the trip! The first day of sun in four days!

The next few days may see some sun as well. Uh oh, can I contain myself? I've been fantasizing about hitting the Cadillac South Ridge trail when it's NOT raining and I can see the views...It will be a tough call - I do have a performance on Tuesday to prepare. So much to do, so little time!

At home, I slowed down recordings to better transcribe these speedy birds.

Here is the original purple finch segment:

Here it is slowed down to two-thirds the original tempo:

Here is my version of this slowed tempo:

Here is that same version by me, now (digitally) sped up to original tempo:

Here is yet another version by me, this time unmodified, mimicking the original tempo:

I’m pleased with how the last version came out, and think this might be a good technique for approximating the speedy birds!

Spring 40: Foggy

Thursday, April 28, 2011
7:20am-8:10am, behind Ballfield, Schoodic Education and Research Institute, Acadia National Park, ME
foggy, drizzly, cool

I will be leading kids on a listening walk here for National Junior Ranger Day on Saturday, so I thought I would get acquainted. It's very foggy out, damp, and deliciously pine-y. I'm checking out a trail along some navy campsites set up by the base that originally used this land.

A song sparrow (and distant winter wren) is the main singer out in this drizzle, thus is appointed Bird of the Day:

However, I would say the experience of the day goes to a stand of pines, and these super-high, barely perceptible birds at the very top of them:

These birds have been identified as Golden-Crowned Kinglets. Thanks, Angi!

It's quite other-worldly to step into a stand of tall pines and hear these tinkling sounds...especially if you disregard the reversing truck in the background.

At home, I got a lot of work done!

-Worked on a piece that contrasts the busy, running, hectic pace of urban/human life to the stillness of the twittering pine grove.

- Had fun mimicking truck beeping noises - there are at least three pitches out here at the Schoodic!
Here's the original truck trio:

- Transcribed several birds from the last few days.
I'm most excited about the Hermit Thrush from April 26 - what an amazing song, and such a regular four-phrase pattern (fourth phrase always super high).
Here is the original:

Here is my version:

Tomorrow is supposed to be partly cloudy - my first non-overcast day on the Schoodic Peninsula! Very exciting!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring 39: Schoodic

6:30am-7:50am, Sundew Trail, Schoodic Point, Acadia National Park, ME
cool, misty, light drizzle

I woke up hungry, stiff, and feeling a bit sick this morning. It's OK - what else can I expect after the exciting and crazy run of the last few days?

Still, being outside and exploring my new environs is enlivening, and I hear new birds the moment I step out of my apartment. The Schoodic Education and Research Institute, where the Artist-in-Residence program is housed, is on the Schoodic Peninsula, one-hour's drive from Mount Desert Island.

The Education Director (and coordinator of the A-I-R program), Kate, is wonderfully welcoming and helpful, and she clued me in on the Sundew Trail, the perfect 0.7 miles for a low-energy morning.

It's a beautiful trail, pine-y and lichen-y, with two vista breakouts - one to a bay, and one to the ocean. This second spot convinces me that the booming sound I hear is not traffic, but the waves hitting the shore. Phew!

On my way back, I encounter this new bird. The clip is short as I was trying to avoid some of the construction sounds (much of the institute is undergoing re-construction right now). Truth-seekers, fear not - you still get a bit of reversing-truck in there:

At home, I worked on my version of today's bird, and the sketch of a piece where ocean-roar and traffic-roar merge, diverge, and converge.

I'm nervous to have so little time before my public presentation here next Tuesday - but I'm grateful to be in a lovely, huge, well-heated apartment (with kitchen and laundry!) after a few days of roughing it. This is a space I can get some work done in!

Spring 38: Crazy Rain Hike

Tuesday, April 26
5:30am-9:30am, Cadillac South Ridge Trail and Eagles' Crag, Acadia National Park, ME
foggy, drizzly to rainy, windy

Yowz! Crazy rain hike!

I decided to check out Eagles' Crag and Featherbed Pond this morning before I left the campgrounds and moved to my apartment at the Schoodic Peninsula.

Must have misremembered the distance, because I thought the pond was around 2.3 miles, for a 4.6 mile round-trip loop.

It was gorgeously misty, foggy and magical as I started out. Mist-shrouded pines are somethin' else. The lichen-rounded rocks and little pines look like something out of a movie set, not real (but that's often how non-Californian forests look to me!).

The magic is increased by the beautiful hermit thrushes I hear singing. This one wins Bird of the Day, he had some special flourishes I have not heard yet:

There is also this new bird:

As I amble along, I declare to myself, "Light drizzles are fine to hike in! Even pleasant!"

When I get to Eagles' Crag, I have to laugh. I imagine the vista is astonishing, however today all I can see is a wall of white fog beyond the edge of the cliffs.
Still, it's fun to imagine what's there and savor the unknown.

Onward, to Featherbed Pond, where I hope to hear a little bird oasis before decamping from Mt. Desert Island!

The rain gets a little more intense as I gain elevation, scaling open rock faces which are exposed and windy. It's getting a little chilly, and as the rain comes down harder, I take occasional refuge: under a large tree, in the lee-side of a giant boulder.

I seem to be hiking for a long time, much longer than the .6 miles beyond Eagle's Crag that I thought I was going. But no pond yet. It seems strange to keep climbing up when I want to arrive at a pond, and I keep imagining suddenly arriving at the summit of Cadillac Mountain, having accidentally hiked 4 miles when I meant to hike 2.3!

As I start to get blasted by harsh, sideways rain and cold winds, the intelligent advice of the Park placards keeps resonating in my head: "Going up is optional. Coming down is not."

(I think they also say, "It's OK to turn around", but that line didn't make it into my inner mantra. I did, however, remember that "cold + wet + wind = hypothermia")

Instead, calm logic argued with adventure-seeking ego. `How stupid it would be to ruin your whole residency by twisting an ankle and getting stuck on the mountain!' `But I just want to get to Featherbed and hear the birds - then I'll turn right back around!'

New mantra: "Don't twist an ankle. Don't get hypothermia" (first sign is chills, which haven't hit me yet)

The next signpost indicates I've gone one mile past Eagle's Crag, with only 1.5 miles left to the summit Cadillac Mountain. Ha! I'm not tempted (I swear!), but I'm upset about not finding Featherbed Pond. Did I completely misremember its existence?

By the way, I thought I'd forgotten my trail map (it was actually at the very bottom of my pack).

Just a little further, I urge myself. It seems implausible, as I'm going up a steep incline, but perhaps the pond is hiding behind that stand of pines up there.

Another face-slapping rain attack as I scramble up rocks that are being transformed into a waterfall. The trees, it turns out, are hiding nothing. It is time to turn around. Thank you, Park Service, for encouraging common sense.

Half a mile down, I see a nice log bench that I didn't notice on my way up. Behind it, lies... a mist-covered pond! I find this pretty hilarious, and laugh at myself for missing it earlier, though it is pretty heavily obscured by fog.
Two minor stumbles, drenched boots/pants/clothes/pack/cellphone, and three miles later, I'm back at Blackwoods Campground. My original four-mile amble turned into a seven-mile trek against the elements. What an adventure!!

Spring 36: A Gift Day

Monday, April 25
5:30-6:45am, ocean by Blackwoods Campground;
8:00am-11:00am, Sieur de Monts, Beaver Pond and Precipice;
11:30am-2:30pm, the Beehive and Gore Mountain
Also: Thunderhole, Sand Beach, and various seaside rocks

It was an incredible first day at Acadia.

I kept feeling like I was the only person here - amazing considering it is one of the most popular national parks and gets almost a million visitors a year.

The chickadees woke me up, and I made for the ocean, just a short walk from my campsite. Sunrise was obscured by clouds, but gorgeous nonetheless from my solitary vista looking over the ocean and Otter's Cove. Not a single car passed on the nearby road. All this beauty, just for me?

Later, I took a short hike up the Beehive and Gore Mountain, with fantastic views of the Precipice Cliff, Sand Beach, the ocean and the islands. The sun came out full force, the sky was an astonishing blue, and at the summit of Gore Mountain it was so warm I stripped down to a T shirt! I had my pick of sunny granite-boulder perches to stretch out on, eat my lunch, and sunbathe, looking out at an incredible vista of ocean, cove, and islands.

Hello, Seagull.

Didn't encounter a single soul on the whole hike up, nor the summit, and in fact was under the impression I was the only human being on Mount Desert Island until I reached the end of my hike (and two other hikers). Amazing!

I'm in love with this mix of ocean and forested mountain that Acadia has going on. My two favorites in one.

Between my solo explorations, I met up with Park naturalist Angi King-Johnson, who was amazingly generous in sharing her vast knowledge of the flora, fauna and cultural history of Acadia as we walked around the Sieur de Monts spring area, Beaver Pond, and the falcon-inhabited cliffs of Precipice.

Can you imagine - having a nature expert to interrogate for three hours with all your burning questions?? It was a dream!

Plus, Angi has a talent as an "animal magnet". No sooner had she mentioned a pair of resident barred owls, then did the owl himself call out (Who cooks for you? is the common pneumonic).

Here are both owls a bit later (sorry, it's very faint):

We also heard a swamp sparrow, encouraged by Angi's "pishing":

and later that morning, a peregrine falcon, who was stunning to watch fly before the vertical sheer cliff-face of Precipice.

I also learned about "edge effect", beavers, coyotes, post-fire reforestation, trail history, the Jackson labs, mixed-species flocks, vultures versus bald eagles, and much, much more. Angi is an incredible ranger with encyclopedic knowledge, and I felt so lucky to hang out with her - what an amazing introduction to Acadia!

However, bird of the day goes to the Winter Wren, recorded at Sieur de Monts, who is incredible!

My sketches today came out of hanging out on some rocks by the ocean path, just me and two seagulls. One idea uses the frequencies and rhythm of the ocean waves hitting the shore; the other is based on the pattern of the pink slabs of granite rock.

Spring 35: Arriving Acadia

Sunday, April 24
6:30pm-7:30pm, Cadillac South Ridge Trail, Acadia National Park, ME
cool, partially clear

Sometimes a person can be too excited.

Too excited to sleep much last night, I drove on adrenaline the whole 5.5 hours up from Boston. I couldn't get here fast enough! On the way, a reading of Shakespeare sonnets on the radio made me cry - I'm extra-sensitive when tired. By the time I arrived at Blackwoods Campground I was thoroughly exhausted.

An intense, luscious smell of pine engulfed me the instant I opened my car door. It was so remarkable, that initial impression, that I considered driving another 5 hours in a sealed car just to experience such an impact once again.

A brief walk up the trail reveals a magical landscape of lichen-lit pines, a birch archway, craggy rocks. The most hermit thrushes I've ever heard! At least three or four individuals. It's amazing.

Then, this bird, new to me, that I only heard (though I would see it and learn its name tomorrow):

It's a brown creeper!

Back at camp, a quick noodle dinner while I fret about what to do tomorrow. What hike to take on the one non-cloudy day this week??

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Unplugging for Acadia

I'm getting ready to leave for my residency at Acadia National Park tomorrow morning, and I'm overflowing with excitement! Despite the weather forecast of mostly rain, I am sure it's going to be an incredible experience.

In support of a deeper communion with nature, I'm going to take a break from daily blogging and the internet for the next few days. I may even turn off my cell phone (if it happens to get reception!)

Rest assured that I will be "blogging" by paper and pencil, and I will update the blog later in the week with all the wondrous sounds and stories of my explorations of Acadia.

Tomorrow and Monday do not have rain forecast, so I hope to do plenty of hiking and exploring of Mount Desert Island on these two days, before moving to my Park housing on the Schoodic Peninsula.

My public performance of works-in-progress will be just one week later, on Tuesday May 3, 7pm at the Moore Auditorium, Schoodic Institute. All are invited!

Spring 34: April Showers...

6:35am-7:05am, Bussey Brook Meadow, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, MA
drizzly, cool, grey

I've been bummed out about the weather report for Acadia (continuous rain for the next foreseeable 10 days), and worried that my upcoming residency may be birdsong-less. But I have two reasons to be hopeful:

1) This morning, there were birds singing despite the drizzle. Phew! That was not the case in most of the rainy mornings of fall and winter that I experienced, but maybe springtime birds are more motivated to keep up the singing?

2) Adages come with the wisdom of generations, right? I'd like to gently remind Mother Nature of the observation that April showers bring May flowers. Please, please, please don't rain for all 11 days that I'm at Acadia! May is just around the corner (hint hint!)

Today's bird was little, flitty, light-chested, perhaps an errant chickadee, but he certainly had some new sounds. Listen for thin, super-high notes mixed with cheeps, followed by soft warbling:

Here he is again, with a few more birds in the background:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring 33: I am a Robin

5:45am-7:15am, edge of Brunswick Golf Course, Brunswick, ME
chilly, slight breeze, very clear

Once again, a confident birdsong dictated my route this morning (through new-car sales lot, across highway, down side street, into woods).

Robins are amazing. They sound different- yet the same- everywhere.
Today's bird, a Brunswick robin:

At the hotel I sketched a structured improvisation based on phrases of robin-song, both straight and adulterated, in a sort of choose-your-own-(Robin Adventure). I'm calling it, "I am a Robin". I look forward to finishing it in Acadia next week, where I will have lots of rainy-days to work!

Meanwhile, here is my version of the Brunswick robin:

and a little robin-inspired improvisation, in which I slow down the song four times as slow, and thus, also a much lower pitch:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring 32: When Alarm Clocks Fail

6:20am-7:00am, random woods abutting Comfort Inn, Brunswick, ME
partially cloudy, cool

I have a theory that, when an alarm clock fails, it's for a good reason.

Usually (the theory goes), we are tired and need the sleep, and our subconscious tricks us into setting the clock for PM instead of AM, or with the volume down, or with the switch pointed at "set" instead of "on".

Today, in addition to needing the sleep, I think the Universe intended that I should emerge from my hotel at exactly the moment when today's bird was in full song. His incredible and unearthly song drew me across the parking lot, over some train tracks, and into a stand of woods.

I regret that I have already used the descriptor "intergalactic"in this blog, because today's birds really made me feel like I was a space traveler. Maybe I can call it extra-terrestrial?

Something about the call - its crystal-clear timbre, its apparent echoing of itself, its crazy high range - made me imagine a UFO homing device, or a perhaps an alien lure, hypnotically calling its Earthling-prey closer and closer.

The song was so continuous and loud that I also wondered if it might be a recording set out by bird-watchers or bird-hunters.

I'm certain the bird is utilizing its syrinx, or double voice-box. Check out how the parts of his song overlap:

Eventually, with baby-step approaches to avoid scaring it away, I did sight the bird. It was very high up, a bit smaller than a robin. No binoculars on this trip, so I can't tell you more details - but it's always thrilling to see the bird that I've been tracking, even from a distance.

A little bit of research confirms that I heard my first THRUSH of spring - a HERMIT THRUSH. I am so excited! It confirms two points that my new birder-friend Alex Dunn had promised: 1) Thrushes have gorgeous, unpredictable songs; and 2) There are new birds almost every day now.

Spring is here!

I feel today like a faithful transcription of what I heard - the combination of hermit thrush and the neighboring chickadees, would make a great piece. Sometimes you can't improve on Mother Nature.

Here's an early effort at mimicking the hermit thrush:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring 31: Goldfinch

7:50am-8:10am, Bussey Brook Meadow, Arnold Aroboretum, Jamaica Plain, MA
breezy, poofy overcast

A new song in the Bussey Brook soundscape: the Goldfinch sings!

This is the first American Goldfinch I've heard singing (as opposed to going, "Hu-uh?", as they have done all winter)

I'm feeling pretty confident about the identification since he was yellow-chested, and the sounds seem to match my bird book. But if someone out there knows better, please let me know!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring 30: Two Sparrows

6:50am-7:10am, Bussey Brook Meadows, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, MA
not cold, diaphanous overcast

It's the cloud-version of sheer: uneven thin filmy cloud through which hints of blue or pink appear.

My pursuit of a White-Throated Sparrow led me to discover a new patch of the meadows: a wooded, tranquil section just before the pond.

I liked the interaction between White Throat and Song Sparrows here, whose songs overlapped in both pitch and in time:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Spring 29: Full

6:00am-6:45am, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, MA
chilly, strong winds, clear except for small clouds on horizon

This must be the feeling of spring - cool, blustery winds, a clarity of sky with potential rain-clouds lurking on the horizon.

Feels not unlike yesterday's Dayton excursion, though I am delighted by the extent to which Boston has fully embraced spring (or the other way around!)

Lots of new trees have budded, the magnolias are in full bloom (I saw these last night), green grass grows confidently where scraggly straw and dead leaves once reigned. Spring is here, fully!

Today's bird is new to me, but I didn't manage to get a sighting:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring 28: The Great Equalizer

6:45am - 7:45am, St. Ann's Hill and Burkhardt Park, Dayton, OH
chilly, windy, rain-clouds on horizon

So there are lots of contenders, and it may be a completely over-used expression, but this morning I decided that the Great Equalizer among birds is neither Death nor Education; no, the Great Avian Equalizer is Flight.

... a fitting observation in the hometown of the Wright Brothers!

As I enjoyed an early morning swing in a desolate playground, a flock of birds wheeled before me against a cloud-swirled sky. It was beautiful: uplifting both literally and spirit-ally.

It didn't matter that they were pigeons.

Now I am as biased as the next urban-dweller in my instinctive distaste and disdain for these rather ugly, dirty, and seemingly low-intelligence birds. But dawn flight beautifies all birds, even pigeons, as they make their loops in silhouette.

I still don't like the way they sound, though. Today's official bird is a house finch who greeted me the moment I left the house:

At home, I try for the umpteenth time to compose the sound of a flock of birds in flight. It's a fun puzzle!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring 27: Trios

7:00am-7:50am, residential neighborhood, Oakwood, OH
mostly clear to mostly cloudy, cool, post-rain fresh

I wish I could have levitated 50 feet into the air and taken a picture of the horizon this morning - sharp billows of dark rain clouds lit with rose.

'Twas a gorgeous morning, the sky in constant evolution as new clouds took shape and were transformed by peach, pink, yellow or white light.

After a week of very short excursions, it felt good to take my time, ambling here and there, no hurry.

Some nice bird trios overheard this morning, including a mourning dove trio, a cardinal trio, and this sweet duo, which I'm going to make a trio by including the nearby triller. They win Bird Ensemble of the Day!

I believe one of them is a titmouse, but I'm not sure about the other bird or the trill-y guy. Ideas, anyone?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Spring 26: Ricochet

7:15am, Oakwood, OH
misty sky, breezy, warmish

It's been a busy week, and today was a quick, explore-the-alleyway-next-to-the-house kind of a morning. Today's bird makes a richety, ricochet sound:

My version:

At my host home, I sketched a piece based on my rather harried week, consisting of short bursts of moto perpetuo (continuous motion) quick notes that are overlaid with robin, mourning dove, and today's new bird.

Here's an improvised sketch of the idea:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring 25: Calm

6:45am-6:55am, residential neighborhood, Oakwood, OH
clear, comfortable, still

The first non-windy morning of my time in Ohio, which gives me a chance to appreciate the relative calm of this neighborhood. Few cars pass, and nobody is perturbed by my standing in the middle of the street to peer up at the tree branches.

Today's bird is New to me! I'm so excited, he's the first new bird I've heard in weeks. A precursor of many to come, I'm sure!

My version:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring 24: Pairs

7:10am-7:25am, residential neighborhood, Oakwood, OH
very clear

It's the first clear-skied dawn of my trip in Ohio, and the birds celebrated in pairs: two excited robins here, a pair of black birds there. The perfect image of spring: two birds chasing each other around with much bluster and apparent protest.

One couple was very civilized and sedentary, however, simply calling back-and-forth in low, gentle tones that remind me of clay flutes. The pacing and phasing of their overlaps is fun! Listen for the mourning doves beneath the sparrow-squawks and cardinal calls:

Spring 23: Figure

Tuesday, April 12
7:05am-7:20am, residential neighborhood, Oakwood, OH
cool, shifting rain clouds, windy

Lots of robins and cardinals out today, including this robin with a nice melodic figure:

I had a good time mimicking this one - my version to be posted!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring 22: Far West

6:40am, Oakwood, OH
warm, windy, storm clouds

Ah, the respite of a "far west" dawn. Dayton is on the western edge of Eastern Standard Time zone, so the sun rises here at a lazy 7:06am.

I slipped out for a few warm, dark pre-dawn moments this morning, just before a heavy rain storm began. The robins here have a slightly different dialect then those in Boston:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring 21: Summer

5:50pm-6:00pm, Kettering, Ohio
very warm, humid, blustery wind

Ever notice how hermetically-sealed airports are? Once I'd gone through security this morning, there was no option of being in real, fresh air - I watched the sunrise through giant glass windows.

I suppose it is that much "safer", but there is something creepy about being in a completely sealed space. Maybe it's supposed to prepare us for the airplane experience?

I'm in Dayton, Ohio for a week-long residency with the University of Dayton's Music Department, leading improvisation workshops with groups ranging from the Gamelan (traditional Javanese music) to the Early Music Ensemble. Fun!

It was a summer day in Dayton, hitting 80 or more, totally confusing my travel-weary, early-spring-oriented body.

Today's bird is a chirper in the backyard bush of one of my hosts - hopefully you can hear him over the wild thick summer winds:

Spring 20: Sunny

7:45am-8:00am, Bussey Brook Meadow, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, MA
bright sun, clear

Today's bird is a song sparrow, accompanied by many marsh-fellows including jays, geese, and nearby rail construction worker.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring 19: Quiz

6:00am-7:00am, Bussey Brook Meadow and Peters Hill, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, MA
chilly, very clear

Oh dear.
I hate making mistakes.
Turns out that everyone has their Yeti call, and I've probably been mixing them all up - Wednesday morning's "Flicker" was most likely a red-bellied woodpecker, like Today's Bird.
Time to learn to distinguish between the various yetis. Do you want to try? Here's a quiz!

Can you identify each Yeti correctly?
The possible answers are: Cardinal, Red-Bellied Woodpecker (Bird of the Day), Nuthatch, and Norther Flicker.

Good luck!





1) Northern Flicker (March 29)
2) Red-Bellied Woodpecker (Today)
3) Nuthatch (Feb 9)
4) Cardinal (Feb 25)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spring 18: Most Malleable

6:10am-6:50am, Franklin Park, JP/Dorchester, MA
chilly, should-have-warn-gloves, wisps on clear sky

Can I be highly unscientific for a minute?
They say that Copper, Glass, and Paper are extremely malleable materials, but I don't think either of these can top Cloud.

Almost every morning this week has brought new shapes and textures I've never encountered. Today's were nearly invisible, fairy-thin, rosy ripples just above the horizon.

Words are too heavy and limited to describe the diversity of shape, density, and light refraction that clouds are capable of. Lately, I think of dawn as the cloud-lighting rather than the sun-rise.

It was nice to return to my old haunt, Scarborough Hill in Franklin Park. It's the first time I've come since spring hit.

The pond had a magical mist curling above it, and I enjoyed the duet of two mourning doves, stereo sound, who were one note apart from each other in pitch (the subject of my sketch this morning).

However, mourning doves are tough to catch on recording. Here is today's bird, can you guess who makes this funny squeereech? Nice geese take-off in the background too!

Will the blue jay never cease to surprise me with new calls??

Spring 17: Retraction

6:15am-7:00am, Peters Hill, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, MA
mostly clear, cool, breezy

I don't always regret packing lightly, but I wished I had my camera this morning.

Two images I would have shared with you:

The willowy pods of an unknown tree, its furry edges back-lit from the rising sun.

Early morning light streaming upon the marshy pond and its twisty trees.

For your listening pleasure:
I liked the dawn interplay of the woodpecker (Bird of the Day) and the Northern Flicker:

Apology of the Day goes to the robins of Jamaica Plain. Can I take back my negative comment from a couple days ago? I don't think the robin songs are regressing, just variable for different locations and birds. Furthermore, as with any learning curve, I'm sure there are ups and downs.

Here is a nod to one of this morning's robins:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring 16: Painterly

6:15am-7:00am, Peters Hill, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, MA
balmy, warmish, breezy, moving clouds

Awesome sunrise this morning: a slow red sun with smoky smudges of cloud passing in front. A huge swath of smooth pink cloud reached over the northeastern quadrant of the sky. Bright white cloud spackle dotted the sky like dabs of paint. So artistically rendered, Ma!

It was warm out, with that nice thick summery marine air. Delicious!

I got duped by an unfamiliar call, which turns out to be an familiar bird (revealed at the end of the track)

This is another of the blackbird's calls which is not the standard trill:

At home I sketched a piece based on the dawn for voices (red sun) and viola (passing smudge clouds).

Spring 15: From Here to Here

Monday, April 4, 2011
6:50am-7:20am, Bussey Brook Meadow, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, MA

The most mesmerizing part of the morning was scrambling up a hill to find myself surrounded by weird, twisted, bare shrub branches. Some were twisted upon themselves, others captured by curvaceous vines, and still others deeply scored by vines that had since passed on.

I had also ended up at the edge of a familiar lot next to my street, rather than the new secret nature enclave I had been hoping for.

Was a grey, grey, rather dismal morning.

Are the robins regressing? Their songs don't have quite the melodic punch of last week..But this one has some fun merges with a nearby cardinal:

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring 14: Laaaaa!

7:05am-7:30am, Bussey Hill, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, MA
sunny, very clear, comfortable

A totally glorious, sunny spring morning- with the extra bonus of Sunday morning calm. I am delighted!

Everyone seems happy today - the sun, birds, me, even the occasional passing car. A bright red-orange cardinal zips across my field of vision as I approach the park entrance. A minute later, another cardinal flies in the opposite direction and proceeds to serenade me.

Here he is, the bird of the day! In his pauses you can hear his busy singing cohorts, including a passing auto:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spring 13: Every Cloud

6:20am-6:40am, Bussey Brook Meadow, Jamaica Plain, MA
crisp, windy, various clouds emerging on a clear sky

I love the first day of blue skies after bad weather.

This morning felt like a reward after yesterday's muck: fresh, clear, and happy to be alive. Could this be the silver lining to every relapse into winter- that we always return to our progress towards spring?

The marsh is back to mostly liquid, and the path is cleared of snow.

Today's bird, a Red-winged Blackbird, is familiar, but I liked catching him so clearly in the pre-dawn moments, without the usual din of 15 other blackbirds:

A moment later, a nice trio emerged (song sparrow's elaborate call, a scolding robin, and the previously quoted blackbird). I love the variation in how their calls interlock, as each bird keeps its own pacing. The blackbird was behind me (away from mics) so it's hard to hear in the mix.

Spring 12: very funny

April 1, 2011
6:50am-7am, Bussey Brook Meadow, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, MA
cold, windy, overcast, wintry-mix-y

Pick your version:

A yucky day, weather-wise. Haha, Mother Nature..very funny...

The saddest image - geese gliding through a couple of small channels broken through the icy marsh. One goose looked almost marooned, or at least dead-ended in frozen stuff.

Nearly missed getting drenched by a bus as it careened by over deep potholes. Ah, springtime in Boston!

It was one of those mysterious, out-of-time, stormy mornings.

The snow a good inch or more thick on the ground, sprinkled with the tiny circles of fallen rain. The branches of a shrub fantastically-garbed with globular droplets, frozen in mid-melt.

Brave geese forged slender lines of passage across the icy marsh, creating patterns of dark water against whitish-iciness.