Yesterday evening, I sat quietly next to a marshy pond full of reeds. It was dead-calm and the marsh came alive with sound as darkness descended:
Soundscape from a reedy pond featuring an Australian Reed Warbler. Recorded at dusk 19 October 2012 along the western edge of the Watagan Mountains near Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. © Lang Elliott.
The clattering of frogs (species unknown) provide a continuous backdrop against which a variety of bird sounds can be heard, as the birds settle-in for the night. Listen for the bell-like tink notes of Bell Miners (featured in my previous blog post), along with soft plaintive whines made by some other bird, which one I do not know. Listen also for trilling tree crickets and the high-pitched buzzes of meadow katydids (long-horned grasshoppers).
But the main songster in the chorus is a very common inhabitant of reed-edged ponds, the Australian Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus australis), a dull brown bird whose rich and varied songs add brilliance to the dusk chorus. The warbler sang from many different perches and usually was invisible to me, but at times I caught glimpses of him singing from tall perches in the rapidly-dimming light.
They say there is a sedge warbler in every patch of reeds here in Australia, no matter how large or small. This patch was no exception, and I could even hear another sounding off from a much smaller marsh some distance behind me.
How lucky I was to find this remote spot, nestled against the base of the Watagan Mountains at the end of a long and narrow valley. Though cows and horses were near, they said not a word and I was blessed to experience the pure voices of nature springing forth from the reedy pool, well out of range of the telltale sounds of humankind.
NOTE: Please don’t play too loud; adjust volume so that the reed warbler is at a pleasant level. And listen with headphones or earbuds if possible, so that you experience the full dimensional effect … my soundscapes are meant to convey the stunning poetry of natural sound, so it is imperative to listen correctly.