We flew into Cairns in Queensland a week ago and I hit the ground running. I’ve spent nearly every “day” recording in the wee hours of the night as well as pre-dawn and dawn, either in the Kuranda National Park just northwest of Cairns or else in Daintree National Park farther to the north.
Sleep has been sporadic at best, mostly me laying flat on the ground along a road or trail in the wet tropical forest, attempting sleep, until I hear something of interest … at which time I jump into action, grabbing my recorder and mike, and heading swiftly in the direction of my quarry. Luckily, it has been dry and there are very few mosquitoes here and few crawling bugs. Sure, poisonous snakes abound, but they’ve gratefully left me alone. Nights in the forest have been magical, a dreamland unto itself.
I have many, many recordings to share, but too little time to process them and upload them to my blog. Hopefully that will change next week when we fly down to Brisbane and set up our “base camp” for Carl’s frog research. No, not an actual field camp, but I think a hotel near Newcastle. Then, each night, we’ll drive into the surrounding New England Mountains in search of frogs. It is likely that I will rent my own car, so that I can stay in the mountains through the night, in order to gather soundscapes during the magic hours when the earth delivers the most exciting and mesmerizing compositions.
Below is a recording that came as a complete surprise. I got it my very first night out in Kuranda National Park. Unfamiliar birds near my sleep-spot repeatedly erupted with sound in the middle of the night, their calls reverberating through the forest. It was splendid to hear their melodious cries and have no idea whatsoever what I was hearing. Some minutes later, another night-singer erupted with a captivating whistled melody, probably delivered in flight, that echoed forever into the night:
Mysterious creatures of the night, sounding off in the Kuranda National Park northwest of Cairns in Queensland, Australia. 21 September 2012, 2:00 am-ish.
Only later did the folks here at the Cassowary House tell me the singers were the Orange-footed Scrubfowl and the Bush Stone-curlew … commonplace critters of the tropical forest in Queensland. But their names and the fact that both species are common really didn’t matter to me. I experienced their “forms” as pure, reverberant sound, products of mysterious creatures of the night, voicing their dreams across a landscape unlike any I’ve ever seen.