Sunday, May 1, 2011

Spring 43: Bird with Skirt

5:20am-7:20am, Alder Trail & Loop Road, Schoodic Peninsula, Acadia National Park, ME
chilly, windy, partial clearing

From a few tiny hints of pink in the sky, it looks like there’s a bit of a visible sunrise to the east, but I’m on the wrong end of the peninsula to see it.

Today I’m exploring the Alder Trail, which runs through “old farmland” according to my trail guide. The good news is there’s lots of brush for birds along the trail.

It’s an active day for wildlife, who seem unaccustomed to humans in these parts. I see my third porcupine of the peninsula, who immediately runs up a tree – I’ve been told they do that when scared. It’s pretty cute, and I coo at it before going on.

A very funny-looking bird waddles rapidly across the path – he appears to be wearing a skirt – and a couple of rabbits later, I hear him, my bird of the day:

At last, the famed wing-created beatings of the Ruffed Grouse!

OK, so this recording is a poor approximation, though I promise I experimented with many surfaces (chest, belly, couch, pillow) and hand positions (open, cupped, scarfed) before picking this as the closest I could get. Check out Cornell Lab's site for an actual field-recording.

The real thing was amazing – like hearing my own heart beat outside my body. It was a deep yet weightless pulsation that I seemed to feel inside my chest as much as I heard it with my ears.

There were some funny white-throated sparrows too,

and after hearing so many, I finally visually-sighted both a white-throat and a winter wren today.

Oddly, it didn’t feel very real, the sightings – almost as if I was watching them on TV. Maybe that’s the impact of the binoculars, creating an artificial intimacy, or the result of staring at too many pictures in field guides?

At home, I wrote a piece that incorporated both the rocking waves of the coast, and a bit of grouse wing-beating rhythm. Here’s a clip of it:


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