An Island of Water

The moonrise over Mt. Charleston in the background and Peterson Pond in the foreground.

Moonrise over Peterson Pond at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.

Pah.  The first people of the land called it pah.  Later, the Spaniards called it agua.  We call it water, and like the early Spaniards and the indigenous Paiutes and Shoshones we know that wherever an abundance of water is found in the desert that place becomes special.  Loren Eiseley stated the point so directly in his book The Immense Journey, “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”  Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is such a magical place, a desert oasis located at the northern edge of the Mojave Desert and just a few miles from Death Valley National Park, the hottest, driest environment in North America.  Here an underground fault forces the Death Valley Aquifer to surface after draining an area of the Great Basin approximately the size of Connecticut.  Across 24,000 acres of the Amargosa Valley, 30 springs and seeps gush a total of 10,000 gallons of water per minute forming mesquite and ash forests, savannas and wetlands.  For all that we know life does not exist without water, but because there is water at Ash Meadows life is abundant.  This island of water sustains life that lives nowhere else.  In fact, more unique species live at Ash Meadows than anywhere else in the U.S, and it has been called the American equivalent of the Galapagos Islands.  The Warm Springs pupfish, the Devil’s Hole pupfish, the Amargosa niterwort and the Ash Meadows blazing star are four species of 26 unique beings that live in and around this oasis.  Migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway find the refuge to be a necessary rest stop on the long journey between their winter haven and their summer breeding grounds.  Creatures from near and afar don’t know that we have declared this special place a National Wildlife Refuge.  They don’t know that it is internationally recognized with IBA (Important Bird Area) status, one of only four such places of that stature in the U.S.  But these creatures know and depend on the watery magic of Ash Meadows.

This is a blog devoted to nature recordings of the soundscape of Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.  Many posts will feature an audio track that highlights a recent recording.  For this introductory post I have assembled an overture of some of the recordings that I have made to date.  Click the play button on the SoundCloud player below to hear a medley of soundscapes around Ash Meadows.  WordPress has a very convenient agreement with SoundCloud the audio file hosting website.  The audio is embedded in my blog, so you won’t be directed to a new website.

Much more information about the refuge is available by following the link posted below.

http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Ash_Meadows/

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