Sunday, May 1, 2011

Spring 42: Pre-Dawn

April 30, 2011
4:20am-5:20am, SERC campus, Schoodic Peninsula, Acadia National Park, ME
cool, windy, drizzly

Well, with enormous effort I finally got up for the Famous Pre-Dawn Hour, and it was not at all what I had hoped.

Perhaps it was the rain that kept a lid on things. Or I didn’t find the right spot. Or it’s just too early in the migration period here in Acadia to get a glorious dawn chorus.

I suspect it’s all of these things, and especially the latter.

Anyhow, my hope of recording the true order of bird entrances (which sings first, which second, etc) and recreating this musically, was somewhat dashed by the haphazard nature of what actually happened.

For a long time, nothing happened, and I got nervous about staying in one place. A very very noisy lobster boat went by in the harbor at about 4:30am, awful sound. Then quiet.

The first birds I heard were gulls. Then, a very very faint winter wren, which I decided to leave my spot by the woods to check out. I’d walked just a few yards when I realized sparrow and hermit thrush were also singing, though I couldn’t tell you who came first.

Basically, I had to walk around to hear the different birds (including white-throated sparrow and brown creeper) as they were too spread apart. I couldn’t just stay in one spot and enjoy a glorious orchestral unfolding all around me. Darn.

My idea then was to write an imagined dawn chorus – how I’d like it to sound, I get to pick the order of the birds! At home I further wondered about creating a fantasy dawn chorus – full of imaginary birds. Might be a bit silly, but could be fun!

Funny anecdote of my time at National Junior Ranger Day, where I was showing kids some of my bird sounds:

I didn’t have a stamp to mark their passes, so I offered to hand-draw a bird, sort of cartoon-style.

Well, my first little visitor, about 5 or 6 years old, was sort of studying his afterwards, so I asked him if it was OK, playfully offering to redraw it better.

“I don’t want anything more! I want you to erase it!”

Thus my burdgeoning career as bird-sketcher is dashed..


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