Running Time:

80 min

Release Date:

August 2013

Recording Location:

Near Granite Mountains, Southern Mojave Desert, California
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Mojave

It is the still moments before dawn. We listen near a dry outwash at the foothills of the Granite Mountains in the Mojave desert. The air is chill, and sounds carry from far off.

The first birds begin calling in the dark, their voices drifting over the scrubby plains. From rocky slopes come the echoes of a Coyote pack in full cry, while a pair of Great Horned Owls call as they patrol their territory.

As the dawn chorus grows, we hear a variety of western desert birdsong; Sparrows, Wrens, Flycatchers and Thrashers. Jet-black Phainopeplas whistle pleasantly as they flit between yucca bushes. A community of Gambel's Quail call prominently as they socialise, sometimes coming very close and clucking nearby.

A Northern Mockingbird begins a stream-of-consciousness oration, including extraordinary mimicry of Jays and other species. A family of Cactus Wrens sing from atop nearby shrubs, and a tiny Hummingbird buzzes our ear.

As the morning birdsong ebbs, we hear the trill of an Antelope Squirrel, and the soft barking call of a female Roadrunner.

Andrew comments:

The Mojave felt like the Australian deserts we know so well; of course uniquely different with Joshua trees and cactii, but familiar enough in spirit.

However it was dead quiet in the late afternoon as we set up camp, and we could only be hopeful that the place would sound more animated the next morning. Fortunately, the air was still, and the landscape came alive with the most diverse variety of sounds. We really were fortunate.

This recording begins quietly, with sounds carrying from way off. Later we had Quail under the microphone stand, and a Mockingbird singing lustily nearby - the volume dynamics get pretty wild! So begin listening softly, and let the recording grow in intensity.

Acknowledgements:

Our very special thanks to Bernie Krause for his suggestion to visit the location of this recording. And to Lauren Harter, a biologist with a deep love of the southwest deserts where she lives. In listening through our recording, she was able to identify many species we were unaware of, allowing us to offer far more interesting (and accurate) listening notes.

Audio sample of this album

1.

First Voices in the Dark; Black-throated Sparrows and Ash-throated Flycatcher

3:54

2.

The Coyote Pack

2:54

3.

Great Horned Owl

9:56

4.

Common Poorwill

11:24

5.

Bewick's Wren

11:07

6.

Gambel's Quail

3:54

7.

Phainopeplas

6:49

8.

Northern Mockingbird

5:44

9.

House Finch

8:56

10.

Greater Roadrunner and Brewer's Sparrow

3:57

11.

Cactus Wrens

4:01

12.

White-tailed Antelope Squirrel

4:25

13.

The Phainopepla's Song

3:00

This album on our blog

Starry Nights and Joshua Trees

Traveling to the Mojave Desert was a pilgrimage of sorts for me. I am a desert lover and the idea of camping out under a desert sky and sleeping under Joshua trees had been living in my imaginatio...

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