Tagged: Cumberland Island

Cumberland Island: Pre-Dawn Cacophony

Cumberland Island, Dawn

Cumberland Island after sunup
Photo by Tom Campbell

This track was recorded on Cumberland Island off the Georgia coast in May 2009, in the pitch dark about an hour before dawn.

Sitting at a picnic table under the live oak trees at the intersection of “Interstate Zero” (the main road down the center of the island) and the path to the Dungeness Dock, I used the stereo T-mic to record into the MicroTrack II. This is a four-minute slice taken from a much longer recording.

Omnidirectional microphones pick up everything in the soundscape — birds, animals, and man-made sounds from 360 degrees all around. Here you hear a cacophony of sounds, mostly birds.

Play 1. Cumberland Dawn Chorus Warm-Up

There are a few points of particular interest along the way:

  • at 22 seconds and again at about the three-minute mark, you can hear the warning snorts of deer (they probably were well aware of my presence and a bit alarmed), and
  • at 1:22 in, a large-ish bird takes wing.

Sounds I would have never heard with my “naked ears” were amplified by the microphone. Listening through headphones as I recorded these sounds, I was keenly aware of animals stepping on twigs, probably 15 or 20 yards away. When that bird — a great-horned owl, I’m guessing — took flight, it was a very startling moment.

Cumberland Island:
Squirrel Tree Frog, Cicada, and Vireo

Cumberland Island National Seashore, sunset on inland waterway

Cumberland Island, inland side
Photo by Tom Campbell

Cumberland Island National Seashore, off the Georgia coast just north of Florida, is home to many flourishing species of insects, birds mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. On this track we hear a few of them, most distinctly a squirrel tree frog, a cicada, and — starting around the 1:55 mark — a white-eyed vireo.

Play 1. Marsh Sounds

 

I think of the white-eyed vireo as “the R2D2 bird,” because some of their calls sound like the the lovable Star Wars robot’s crazy beeps and whirring sounds.

This recording is an oldie but goodie, made in 2001. I carefully edited out the sounds of airplanes, boats, and motorized land vehicles so you get a sense of the place without those intrusions. Most of my nature recordings end with the sounds of internal combustion engines and me cursing. Maybe some day there will be one square inch of silence on Cumberland Island.


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