Mist rises off the tranquil waters of a slow-flowing river in the stillness of pre-dawn.
Waterbirds fly in with a whistle of wings and alight, their calls echoing off the riverbanks. As the sun rises, nearby reedbeds and woodlands come alive with vibrant morning birdsong.
"Wetland and riverine habitats are always rich with diversity, and especially so in the dry conditions of continental Australia. Acoustically, they are wonderful places to record, and so one of my favourite locations is overlooking the water, with reedbeds backed by woodlands, with the early morning sun dancing reflections.
"This is one of those mornings, with the characteristic songs of Reed Warblers dominating proceedings, and the rush of waterbird wings as they fly past to alight on the water.
"The microphones were placed facing the water, and with reedbeds to the left and right. So waterbirds would fly across the stereo field, and those warblers can be heard balanced to each side. Across the river was a small cliff and wall of trees, and the resulting echos add to the atmosphere."
This recording begins in the predawn, with distant warbling of Magpies and song of a Pied Butcherbird (at beginning and from 33.39 on). The songs of Australian Reed-Warblers (0.22) echo out from the reedbeds - they are wonderfully vocal birds, calling frequently and often all day. Other songbirds - Variegated Fairy-wrens (2.09…) and Willie Wagtails (2.19, 2.28…) among them, join in as the dawn chorus gains pace.
Occasionally a Whistling Kite can be heard from its perch nearby (10.41, 11.36). White-plumed Honeyeaters join in a little later, first with their rapid chipping alarm-like calls (35.33) before they settle into their regular "Tiu, tiu" dawnsongs (almost subliminally from around 37.00 on). Around the same time can be heard the soft, piping of Little Grassbirds (35.51). A pair of Magpie Larks awake, and call out loudly in duet with a variety of vocalisations (40.09, 40.51, 41.27, 41.46…), followed by the "ark, ark" of Little Crows (40.19)
Waterbirds are heard prominently throughout, taking flight and calling, often from the water. Prominent among them are Grey Teal (10.54, 13.15, 21.43), but there may also be Pacific Black Ducks which do sound similar. Other waterfowl include Coots with their sharp "Tzik!" calls (5.18, 26.30) and Australasian Grebes with their delicate chittering (12.45, 25.50).
From the water's edge come the buzzy, ratcheting calls of Black-fronted Dotterels (1.54, 2.17), and perched in a tree opposite are a group of Black Cormorants, which grunt occasionally (11.00, 39.50, 47.28).
Later, a small group of Zebra Finches can be heard nearby (from around 49.54 on), plus a distant Common Bronzewing (51.00…), a flight of Budgergars (calling 51.19 on, and flying past 53.43...), and the harsh call of a Spur-winged Plover (57.59)