Peterson Pond – Fall 2013

Peterson Pond - Fall

In Contrast:  This is one of my favorite haikus written by the famous Japanese poet, Matsuo Basho.  To me it says that fall is a quiet and understated time of year.  The productive seasons of spring and summer are ending, and it’s time for nature to take stock of its gains and transition to the lean times of winter.  I recently posted about my recording of the spring time symphony played at Peterson Pond.  A loud chorus of birdsong arises as the birds are focused on the busy and noisy business of mating.  In contrast, the fall soundscape of the pond is subdued.  There seems to be an understated energy as the wildlife focuses on the urgent need to eat in preparation for leaner times of the impending winter.  Those birds that are migrating south take the opportunity to rest and rebuild strength for the incredibly long journey ahead.  The pond is populated with hundreds of American coots, some mallards and a few teals.  In fact, there seems to be just as many birds in and around the pond as you find in the spring.  They’re just busy feeding instead of lovemaking.  In the bushy areas around the pond, the loud and aggressive Yellow-headed blackbird of the spring has been replaced by the busy little Marsh Wren.  He’s a chatty little bird that you’ll easily hear but almost never see.  He spends his time near the water’s edge, hopping from one cattail to the next probing for bugs.  The life of the Marsh Wren highlights another point of contrast that I discovered early in my efforts to record soundscapes.  That is, places that are aurally interesting are not necessarily visually interesting and vice versa.  I have a birding friend that claims Peterson Pond to be a somewhat challenging locale for bird viewing.  There’s not a lot of open water to see birds, and a thick grove of reeds and cattails impedes close up viewing, even with a spotting scope.  But as far as listening, Peterson Pond is one of the most interesting places on the refuge, and as I’ve said before, one of my favorite soundscapes to record.  In contrast, I’ve never felt compelled to take my recording rig to a great park like the south rim of the Grand Canyon.  On the canyon’s rim there’s just not much to hear other than summer time thunderstorms and spring winds, but what a feast for the eyes.  The partial sound file posted below features the constant sound of paddling and diving coots, an occasional mallard, the chatty Marsh Wren and other birds.  Also listen for the swooshing sound of blackbird wings as they fly across my mics from right to left on their way to feed in the cattails.  At the very end of the track, that’s not a jet; it’s a Blue-winged Teal making a fast approach and landing on the pond.  They are fast!

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