Winter dawn in the Central Valley flyway
Millions of ducks, geese, swans, and cranes migrate south to spend the winter in the Central Valley of California. On the morning of January 3, 2011 I drove to the Sacramento-San Juaquin River Delta to record at dawn. The eastern sky was barely showing light through a mostly cloudy sky after two days of rain. The area consists of harvested corn (maize) fields that are mostly flooded at this time of year. I recorded for an hour and fifteen minutes starting at 0620 and had to stop when a large irrigation pump was started and was driven out by the noise.
What follows are three segments, in order, lifted from this recording.
The high pitched, distant calls of Greater White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons), a pair of Great-Horned Owls (Bubo virginianus) calls back and forth in the foreground, the male much lower in pitch than the female. A Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) and Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris) join in on the right, and towards the end the high “Woo-Woohoo ” call of Tundra Swans (Cygnus columbianus) can be heard.
As always, listening with headphones is best.
About half an hour later Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) started heading towards their foraging areas for the day and took flight. Their loud, gurgling calls carry well. Often while flying high over the Sierra Nevada Mountains in this area, the cranes can be heard clearly but not seen. They left the area anywhere from a single bird to groups of 30 to 40.
About 10 minutes later thousands of Anser albifrons appeared in great V’s and W’s and echelons and noisily flew South and Southwest towards Mt. Diablo to get to their foraging areas for the day.
Equipment: home-made Jecklin disc, pair of Sennheiser MKH-80 mics, SD722 recorder
post production reduced 300Hz and below