Beginnings. I’ve made soundscape recordings of various areas for the past couple of years without any thought that my efforts would lead to a project such as the one that I am currently involved at Ash Meadows NWR. This past April while visiting the refuge I had the good fortune to record the beautiful song of a bird who just happened to land very close to my microphones. Listening to the track afterwards, the bird was not recognizable to me. Not surprising, I’m a fledgling birder (pardon the pun), so there are a lot of bird songs that I don’t recognize, yet. The bird was never sighted, either, which left me with very few clues to help with identification. I frequently don’t see what I’m recording, because I typically start the recorder and walk away. Human presence often has an unfavorable impact on the soundscape that I’m trying record. However, when listening to the track afterwards, everything often returns to normal after a few minutes of my departure. Also, I find that people attract insects. And, quite frankly, I don’t like listening to flies buzzing around my microphones. At the conclusion of my outing, I stopped by the refuge office and was discussing with the refuge staff the recording of the bird’s song that I didn’t recognize. Fortunately for me, a visiting bird expert from California just happen to be in the office at the same time. She listened to the track and identified the bird as a Bullock’s Oriole. The colorful little bird has a melodic song that is simple, very bright and clear. It’s a migratory songbird that spends its summers in the western U.S. and its winters in southern Mexico and Central America. I’ll always owe a debt of gratitude to this charming little bird, because the refuge, being impressed with the quality of the recording, asked me to consider this soundscape project. Click the “play” button on the SoundCloud link below to hear a recording of that first bird.