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Tungahua I - Bosque Protector Los Cedros

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Trogon Creek - Bosque Protector Los Cedros

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Amanecer Cerca del Observatorio - Bosque Protector Los Cedros

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Clearing - Bosque Protector Los Cedros

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Aves en el Bosque Secundario - Bosque Protector Los Cedros

I thought that there might be some interest in these, and they’re certainly not doing anyone besides myself much good just sitting on my hard drive. When I last had the pleasure of visiting the tropical forest I recorded many, many hours worth of soundscapes from different areas of the Bosque Protector Los Cedros, a biological reserve in Ecuador covering 17,000 acres of mostly untouched wilderness in the lower part of the Chocó biogeographic region, one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and home to a staggering number of species of flora and fauna, many endemic to the region.

Below are several recordings, all about an hour in length. They were taken from several locations and form something of a picture of this type of forest in the middle of the (relatively) dry season; though life doesn’t seem to slow down much in the rain there, it certainly becomes more challenging to record it well. My efforts at makeshift umbrellas made of Anthurium leaves were enough to protect my equipment from the many downpours, but the acoustics left much to be desired. All of these recordings were made with me present, perched a little way further down the trail but still within eyeshot of the area so that I could attempt to document the wildlife I was recording (I must have looked positively ridiculous flipping furiously through the field guide The Birds of Ecuador, which contains something like 1600 species, after some tiny hummingbird or another).

I will unabashedly confess that this area of the world is what sparked my interest in plants, and I believe that In Situ has come into the interior landscaping industry directly from these forests, with our boots still muddy; our interest in working with more unusual and exotic species, replicating natural habitats, creating impromptu natural history lessons and trying to recreate indoors that feeling one gets when surrounded by a forest almost violently alive and brimming over with some of the most amazing plant species on earth is a direct result of this early exposure to the rainforest of South America.

Mostly tranquil, sometimes raucous, often hilarious (although maybe you had to have been there), these recordings (to me, at least) capture much of the feeling of being alone in these primeval forests; so lush, vibrant and vigorous, the plants seem to grow visibly as you watch them, and there is an abundance of life everywhere you rest your eyes. I hope that they have some measure of transportive effect: take them for a spin and let me know what you think.

If I hadn’t temporarily lost my notes I’d use the space here to name the goodly number of bird species one can hear in this recording; when they turn up I will add them. The avian fauna makes up a large percentage of the readily visible creatures one can see when walking (or in this case, sitting) the trails at Los Cedros. (I should say relatively visible; even the brightest coloured-ones are somwhat cryptic in the riot of life that is this type of forest.)

If you have this recording on at appreciable volume though a decent set of speakers you may notice a dull booming sound, which I didn’t know what to make of when I’d heard it out there. It wasn’t until I got back to camp and heard the news that the Tungurahua volcano near Baños (nearly 200 kilometres away) was erupting did I put two and two together.

This recording was named after the bird which can be heard calling beginning at about twelve minutes into the recording; a beautiful bird which I had seen infrequently but had never heard call before I captured it here.

Water is at the heart of this forest, and indeed this reserve’s mountain streams and massive rainfall serve as the principal watershed for the surrounding communities, which are noticeably hotter and dryer than even a little ways up the hill.

El Observatorio is a small open space atop a hill on the ridge that overlooks Los Cedros. Perched at about 2100 metres, it’s a great place to sit and, weather-permitting, look out over the great untrodden wilderness below.

It’s a bit of a hike to get there, much of it along the sopping-wet ridge where is seems always to be raining or have just finished raining; epiphytes abound, and it’s a great place to find orchid species, among them species in the genus Dracula, of which several are unique to the area.

This recording was taken at dawn after having spent the night on said ridge with a couple other fellows and a prodigious amount of rum. Dawn was certainly not as painful as it could have been had I woken up elsewhere, as I’m sure you’ll agree after listening.

Empty space is somewhat hard to find there, but I was able to find a clearing at set up shop for a few hours, which is where this recording was taken. By the way, the white noise that’s present more or less in all of these recordings is the sound of the river, which was something of an annoyance, but easily forgivable.

This is a pretty minimal recording, really, (with the exception of the one or two parrot-flock flyovers) but I feel like you can hear a bit of tension; it was threatening to rain (again) for its duration. A few of the forest-edge bird species make their appearance here.

Another recording taken just after dawn in an area of more secondary forest, where epiphyte density is a little lower and where sound seems to carry a little better. If you’ve ever been up and about at dawn (couldn’t blame you if you haven’t) you know that it is a busy time for our feathered friends, and is a general changing of the guard in the tropical forest from the night to the day shift, so one tends to hear a good solid mix of different creatures at this time, from frogs to insects to monkeys and lots of things in between.
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