Northern Spring Peeper Chorus - Chezzetcook 2020

by Darcy Spidle

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9:08 p.m. 13:21
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9:28 p.m. 13:50

about

Being forced to stay home during this pandemic has resulted in a few new routines. The one I’m most fond of is my nightly sound walk around the northwestern parameter of the Chezzetcook salt marsh. These wetlands are considered one of the premier birding locations in the province, and the calls I hear on my walk each night shore up that claim. But in mid-April, I started hearing an intriguing non-avian voice issuing from the ditches, woodlands, and backyards opposite the marsh. The male northern spring peepers had begun singing for mates.

The peeper is a common amphibian in Nova Scotia, and their evening chorus is ever-present here during mid-spring. I’ve tried to record them in the past, but they can be elusive when people are around. They’re a creature usually (best) heard from a distance. On my nightly walks, however, I was slowly getting a sense of exactly where these frogs were hiding. I discovered a stretch of roadside swamp under a steep terrace of Japanese knotweed that was alive with frogs. At dusk, if I stood silently in front of this spot for a few minutes, the singing would start. First, a lone voice. Then a few more. Soon the chorus was overwhelming. It would become so loud that I’d have to hustle home before my ear started ringing. The volume of these frogs up close is overwhelming, but perhaps the topography and foliage in this particular location accentuate the effect. The steep hill behind the swamp acts as a reflector, and the hundreds of bamboo-like knotweed stalks that cover that slope function as resonators – organ pipes for frogs. All this to say: I quickly became obsessed with the place. During the second week of May, I began recording there. I started camping out in my car (windows up) for a few hours each night. I’d sit there and listen through headphones as the volume swelled. I tried various microphone arrays and positions. Some nights excessive traffic noise frustrated my efforts. Other times the peepers were too aware of my presence and became skittish. But on 2020 May 18th, everything came together, and I captured a recording that at least touches on the power of these tiny frogs.

This collection is free to download, but if you choose to pay, I’ll donate half of your offering to the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, a provincial organization that protects coastal wilderness areas in my region. Thanks so much for your support.

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Photo by Hattie Moon

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released May 19, 2020

For weekly dispatches from the field, subscribe to my Lands and Waters channel on Youtube. www.youtube.com/channel/UC7irutY2PplZgiQqbgw48JQ

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chik white Nova Scotia

Darcy Spidle has long used the moniker chik white for various art projects. His latest efforts centre around the jaw harp, a pancultural, ancient instrument steeped in mystical allure. Inspired by sound poetry, noise, free improvisation, Dada, nature, and the human voice, chik white harp explorations aim to conjure visceral experiences. ... more

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