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I do quite a bit of nature recording and what makes it a worthwhile pastime for me is the beauty of the moment forever captured in sound, the fleeting moments of time that I set on a digital file….a sound photograph. Most of the birds and insects you hear will be gone in the blink of an eye. An adult Mayfly may live for 30 minutes if they’re lucky…..maybe one day at the most. Or how about those pesky white Japanese Beetle grubs that chomp on your beautiful lawn. They spend about 10 years under you grass as grubs but only one month as an adult beetle. Time flies (house fly: 10-25 days) doesn’t it? I know these two insects can’t be recorded but I just wanted to make known the reason for my addiction to recording and that’s the quick evaporation of life. The Spring Peepers you’ll hear in the following sound clip live for about three years and that’s probably the maximum life expectancy so many of the one’s you’ll hear are on their last spring of life. The bullfrog is a longer lived story and can survive in the wild for about 7 years. The red winged blackbirds you’ll hear at the beginning of the clip average about 2 1/4 years of life in the wild but can live longer…maybe 6-7 years. The photo above is of a wild orchid I came across in Meadville, Pa. when I was doing some sound recording.
This is a long clip…over 17 minutes…but you can skip around by grabbing the counter and dragging it to where you want it. It’s been condensed from an hour to just over 17 minutes to show the transition of a pond at duskfrom only birds to the deafening crescendo of frogs.
I’ve been searching for an area to record in that’s relatively close to home (Gibsonia, Pa.) and has the same remoteness as an upper Ontario wilderness but hadn’t found it….until now. The area of Spring Creek in the Allegheny National Forest fits the bill completely. It’s about 12 miles outside of Marienville, Pa, takes a little over 90 minutes to get there and is about 89 miles from the inside of my garage. Perfect. The remoteness of the area is extreme…..absolutely no man made sounds can be heard from anywhere in the area….no city noises, no lawnmowers, no cars, no people…..only the occasional jet flying high overhead and at least 5 miles above you because it’s not in a landing pattern. I was there from 6:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. and didn’t see one other person and no cars. I imagine the occasional fisherman will pop up in his car but there is absolutely no through traffic and no homes or camps. The road to the area starts as paved and ends in dirt and you’ll find it a little rough in spots. I don’t know if you’d want to drive your new Mercedes because you’ll definitely hear the pinging of stones bouncing off of the car undercarriage. So be forewarned. This road finally ends across a narrow wooden planked bridge that crosses Spring Creek and there’s a small dirt area to park on the right after crossing. The road does continue but it gets really rough and won’t be usable after the first snow. If you take the trail directly in front of the parking area you’ll come to an open, swampy area that’s spotted with small ponds. This is my favorite recording area. You’ll not only hear an abundance of birds but also frogs (bull frogs in the day) and from everywhere the constant sound of water from Spring Creek. If you take the trail across from the parking area you’ll eventually end at Pigeon Run Falls which is a gorgeous mutlitiered waterfall really too noisy for recording but quite a sight especially in the ANF where falls are rare. On another note Spring Creek is loaded with trout so if you fish take a rod and reel and walk the creek from the falls to the bridge for a guaranteed loaded creel. The only living thing I took home was a tick who hitched a ride and grabbed a meal…..his last supper.
This path skirts the creek for just about a mile (one way) and ends at gorgeous Pigeon Run Falls. This is where the fog/dew burn off was recorded in the early morning and in fact you can see the fog in the distance. Spring Creek’s on the left and flowing through a valley that’s about 100′ or so below the path. It’s fairly hard to get to from this ridge because of the steep grade and packed in foliage. Bird song is everywhere as well as bull frogs and I imagine the area is polluted with Spring Peepers early in the season.
Here’s it is….Pigeon Run Falls. This is what you’ll
see at the end of your mile hike nestled at the end of a canopy of pines. You can camp here if you’d like…..there’s plenty of flat, open areas and there were a couple of old campfires still in evidence. One thing to remember though…it’s really noisy here and you won’t be able to hear a thing other than the thunderous falls.
Now we’re back at the beginning of the trail and on the far side of the dirt parking area. This was my favorite recording section of the area. This section is pockmarked with small open fields and small ponds surrounded by wet, semi boggy ground just perfect for birds and frogs. . And there were a ton. And of course the white noise of the creek in the background. Have a listen.
This place is about 4 miles outside of Marienville, Pa and not near as quiet or remote as Spring Creek but it does have a nice lake and beavers. There are several different trails you can take and the Beaver Meadow loop passes an area of blueberry bushes and in the summer they’re yours for the picking. There’s enough of them….it’s about a 1/2 acre area and fenced to keep the deer (bears?) out. There’s also a floating boardwalk at the far end of the lake and a great place for birds. And yes there are beavers here and seem to be unafraid of people. Two were lazily swimming about 50′ in front of me and showed no fear.
This is the overflow area of the lake and it’s rich with birdsong. From here the path leads to a set of steps, up an embankment and into the woods. I encountered a couple of beavers about half way around the lake and right before the floating boardwalk. They were apparently unafraid of me and did their best to ignore me while swimming in lazy figure eights about 75′ in front of me. An occasional tail slap warned me to keep back or was their way of keeping me in check. The recording below was taken from the boardwalk. Not much as far as birds and the recording is fairly bland peppered with traffic rumbles. Taken on the boardwalk.