By Karen Stevenson
As we explore nature, landsnorkeling relies heavily on our sense of sight to spy the tiniest of organisms or see the flash of color of an oriole in a tree. I have found a tiny vole skull in a grassy field and looked up to see a hornet’s nest (vespiary) under the eave of my house. And I have found the first – I’m sure it was the first – buttercup of the spring season.
There are other senses we can employ to landsnorkel. Sit somewhere outside with your eyes closed, and listen. A robin’s treetop song becomes more sonorous. The wind, if you really listen, can have overtones like a pipe organ resonating in a church sanctuary or sough through pine branches that will leave you straining to understand. Sound dominates the landscape either in the cacophony of cicadas on a summer evening or the solitary plinking of ice-melt on a spring day.
Want to hear polar bears growl, peregrine falcons cry, killer whales splash, ice breaking up? Encounters: Experiences in the North, www.encountersnorth.org, will take you there. Richard Nelson’s radio show from Alaska captures all these sounds and more. “Each 29 minute segment contains a tight weave of scientific and indigenous perspectives as Nelson bubbles over with boundless enthusiasm for all things wild.” This program is recorded live and worth streaming the podcast. “Whether high atop a 65 foot tree to record a program on wind, kayaking alongside a pod of sea lions or getting curiously close to a grizzly bear, Nelson engages the listener in feeling the place as well as the subject.”
Another website www.naturesoundmap.com allows you to click on a location on the world map and listen to sounds recorded in that area. Try out Sri Lanka where frogs, insects and birds sing in the early morning light, then a monsoon storm passes over the rainforest. Or maybe you’d like to listen to a black flying fox in Australia or elk feeding on snow in Norway or closer to home, Artist Paint Pots in Yellowstone.
At Sounds of Nature Collection, you will find a collection of natural sounds: thunderstorms, ocean waves, swampland at sunset, pig frogs and turkey talk.
There are nature sounds websites galore on the web and YouTube. YouTube?! But wait…if you or a nature lover you know is bedridden at some point, consider one of these sites. Just google nature sounds. You can log on to hours of sounds at a remote beach, a river, rain, or birds.
Go ahead, go outside. Sit on a hillside, under a tree, near a prairie pothole, or on your deck. Close your eyes … and listen!