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Recording Club's First Adventure: A Big Success
by Amy Hunter

The Recording Club is gearing up for more events throughout the year for those interested in getting out in small groups and testing their experience recording in the field. Our premiere adventure, the first official outing, was held on the 16th & 17th of January and what fun we had! We went to the Sacramento Valley Wildlife Refuge and Grey Lodge Wildlife Management Area to record wintering waterfowl and witness the spectacular overflight of Snow and Canada Geese as they flew in and out of the refuge.

We met Saturday morning at the Sacramento Valley Wildlife Refuge. There to join us was Joe Rojas from KRON TV who was on assignment to shoot video footage for the Ch. 4 news. After getting all our gear together we caravanned around the refuge, stopping at strategic locations. In the marshy wetlands were plenty of American Coots (my favorites), a variety of different species of ducks, Buffleheads, Marsh Wrens and Red Winged Blackbirds. Above us were Redtailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures... but no GEESE!!!!

We reconvened near lunchtime to grab a bite and warm our bones. We talked tech and compared the latest in audio fashion. Joe was packing some pretty nice shotguns of his own! After lunch, we headed out to some of the backroads surrounding the refuge where the geese like to feed on the farmer's rice fields. We spotted large flocks of geese in the distance and were able to get some "decent" recordings. Around 4 pm we returned to the Refuge hoping to catch the infamous "fly in". Having never experienced this, I wasn't sure what we were waiting for! As the sky darkened and the temperature dropped... we waited... recording ducks and coots all along but no geese. We swapped gear, listened to each other's mic's, enjoyed the peacefulness... but no Geese!

Finally, it was time to go. Still no geese.... but hey you can't control Mother Nature, right? Just as we were putting away our gear and walking back to our cars, THEY CAME and came and came. The sky was filled with thousands of geese.... reminding me of an Escher painting with the white geese and their black tipped wings against a white sky. Was this some kind of wonderful Rorschack test??? Quickly we pulled out our gear and stood motionless as our ears were filled with their calls. What an incredible sound!

Soon however the sun was setting and it was time to go. We all met for dinner at The Blue Gum Inn, a local motel and restaurant a few miles up Highway 5. The Blue Gum Inn specializes in family style meals and hospitality! We had a wonderful time recounting the day's events and catching up.

Many people stayed at the Blue Gum Inn while others drove out to Wilbur Hot Springs to enjoy the lovely hot springs there.

Sunday morning a few diehards (including me!) headed out at 6 AM (or so) to catch the "fly out" and any dawn chorus activity. This time we weren't so lucky. No fly out but we recorded some incredible sounds of red winged blackbirds as they chatted and chirped well into the morning. We also heard and recorded the sounds of gunshots as hunters practiced their trade nearby. It is a very disturbing experience to witness the life all around you and know that each time you hear a "pop" that someone is taking a life for sport. Nevertheless, we got some good recordings in between the gunshots.

We all met back at the Blue Gum Inn for their famous brunch special, overindulging in food and tall tales of recording expertise. By now, we were regulars! After lunch, we drove out to Grey Lodge going way off the beaten track. However nice the view, there weren't very many good recording opportunities. We arrived at Grey Lodge early Sunday afternoon. There, Joe interviewed Paul Matzner and some other members for his story while the rest of the group went out "hunting" for sounds. Unfortunately, we were informed by the ranger that many of the geese had been scared away. Why? I can't remember.

We dispersed Sunday evening, going our separate ways. We enjoyed a wonderful weekend and were blessed with some very special sounds and friendships.

Articles from Fall 1996

  Letter From The Chairman

Grand Canyon Air Raid Alert

Etymotic Research ER-4 Earphones

A Naturalist in the Rainforest

Sound Recording Adventures in Antarctica (1): A Morning With the Emperors

NSS Recording Club Firsts

National Watchable Wildlife Conference '96

Nature Sounds Newsletter

NSS Home Page

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