“Select Recordings” Paul Dickinson


Airing nightly July 1-August 31, 9:15pm-8am


Episode 1: “Night of the Whippoorwills” July 1-7

I make long duration soundscape recordings in wilderness areas of the upper midwest.
In the context of the annual Midwest Nature Recordist Campout, I found a location on Cranberry Dike Road, in the Crex Meadows Wildlife Refuge. There was a frog pond full of Eastern Grey Tree Frogs nearby, and relatively fresh bear tracks in the sand on the trail. I was hoping to get a recording of one of the local wolf packs that my friend Rich Peet (who is an expert on all of the wildlife in Crex Meadows) had told me about. I set up a 4-channel recording rig to run from 8:00 PM until 6:30 AM the next day. Instead of recording wolves, I placed my recording gear in the midst of a territorial dispute between 2 male whippoorwills.

This recording is presented in real time, without edits or filtering, and with minimal dynamic processing to prevent clipping

Cranberry Dike Road
Crex Meadows Wildlife Refuge
Grantsburg, Wisconsin
May 25-26, 2012
10:36 pm – 8:02 am
N45 52.483 W92 38.185
Total run time: 08:03:11
©2012 Paul Dickinson

Episode 2: “A Thunderstorm in Real Time, Though Not Necessarily ‘Live” July 8-14

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 9.41.20 PM 
A late spring Sunday evening in northwestern Wisconsin. The weather’s been wet for the last few days, and the day’s major deluge has already occurred. But there’s much more to come- the frogs know it, and are all too eager to partake. The other residents of the forest and marsh have long since hunkered down in the hope that it will pass quickly, but this one is going to be an all-nighter.

The selected portion of this recording corresponds with its streaming schedule on ACRE TV,  beginning at 9:15 pm and ending at 8:00 am. A real-time recollection of the rainy night of May 27-28, 2012, in Crex Meadows Wildlife Refuge in Burnett County, Wisconsin. The recording is presented unedited, unfiltered, and without dynamic processing. The original recording was made in 4 channels, with 2 stereo arrays spaced about 50 feet apart at the boundary between wooded wetland and open meadow. The resulting recording was mixed down to stereo, combining the aural properties of these two habitats.

2012 Crex Meadows RCO

Near Main Dike Road
Crex Meadows Wildlife Refuge
near Grantsburg, Wisconsin
May 27-28, 2012
9:15 pm – 8:00 am
45°51’02.7″N 92°34’52.1″W
Total run time: 10:45:00
©2012 Paul Dickinson

Episode 3: “80 Truckloads of Sand” July 15-21

July 18 is World Listening Day. In recognition, I share seven recordings from Cedar Lake, in the town of Union, in Waupaca County, Wisconsin. I have been spending the occasional weekend there since the early 1980s. 

In choosing locations to record, I prefer remote locations with a minimum of  anthropogenic (human-generated) sounds. Areas with farms, roads, and heavy flight paths are generally ignored in favor of so-called ‘pristine’ wilderness areas. Cedar Lake is surrounded by a mix of full-time and vacation residences, and the surrounding area includes farms, light industry, and wilderness areas. County and state highways are close by. The wildlife soundscape is punctuated by tractors, lawnmowers, and the occasional souped-up pickup truck or jake-braking diesel. All but one of the recordings are unprocessed, in order to emphasize that this is not exactly a ‘pristine’ listening environment, but it is still possible to enjoy listening to the wilder members of this community do what they do. There is an aural give-and-take between the wild, the recreational, and the agricultural. No one sphere dominates the soundscape- but that will soon change.


My choice of Cedar Lake as a location to listen to for World Listening Day was a deliberate one- the town of Union recently approved a sand mine permit that will have 80 trucks per day, 24/7, rolling down roads less than 5 miles away from where these recordings were made. Actual mining will take place up to 16 hours a day, Monday through Friday. The mine will be sited across a county road from Tellock’s Hill Woods State Natural Area “an old-growth northern mesic forest on the north-facing slope of a drumlin.” -Wisconsin DNR website. High-level, low frequency sounds generated by the mine and the trucks carrying away its product will radiate in all directions, for several miles. This will not only affect the quality of life for the human residents of the town, but the wildlife as well. Going forward, the soundscape of the town of Union, Wisconsin will be permanently altered.

Listener’s note: The lawnmower at the beginning of the program is the loudest sound you will hear. You will want to adjust



Recreational Mowing and Your Hummingbird Feeder
Cedar Lake
Town of Union, Wisconsin
August 3, 2012
3:04 – 5:05 pm
Total run time: 2:00:32


Prior to Rain
Wildlife Ridge
Town of Union, Wisconsin
March 23, 2012
10:50 – 11:48 pm
4-channel mixed to stereo
Total run time: 57:14


4/20 Late Dawn Transition
Cedar Lake
Town of Union, Wisconsin
April 20, 2012
6:40 – 8:10 am
Total run time: 1:30:28


Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 11.49.13 PM (1)
Veeries and Thunderstorm
Between Cedar Lake and Whitcomb Creek
Town of Union, Wisconsin
June 23, 2013
8:49 – 10:24 pm
Total run time: 1:34:30


Leopard, Peeper, Wood, Toad
Cedar Lake
Town of Union, Wisconsin
March 21, 2012
10:23 – 11:56 pm
Total run time: 1:22:33


Barred Owl Juvenile and Insects (w/ EQ)
Cedar Lake
Town of Union, Wisconsin
August 3, 2013
2:37 – 3:52 am
Total run time: 1:14:56


Equinox Dawn Transition Chorus
Cedar Lake
Town of Union, Wisconsin
March 21, 2012
4:46 – 6:53 am
Total run time: 2:06:47

Episode 4: “Boundaries” Part 1,  July 22-28


The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota is a major canoe camping destination, and the location that photographer Les Blacklock used as the backdrop for the “Land of Sky Blue Waters” ads for Hamm’s beer in the 1960s. It is also a very rewarding listening environment for those willing to invest the time and effort to paddle in a few miles. I have made many recordings there since the early 2000s.

4-1: “A Chickadee at the Edge of the Charcoal Forest”

TS_4-1 Aerial

Ten months after the Pagami Creek Fire of September 2011 (which burned 100,000 acres), I set up my recording gear at the edge of the burn area.

This unedited recording has been processed to remove electronic interference in the original.

Location: Lake 3
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
N47 54.082 W91 26.035
8:36-10:12 PM, July 12, 2012
Duration: 1:36:05

Navigator: Leif Dickinson

4-2: “Miles Island Moose and Squorrel”

TS_4-2 Aerial

Miles Island is a small island in Seagull Lake, with no campsites. In the early morning hours, one of the residents gets a little chatty. Later, a large ungulate passes through.

This unedited recording has been mixed down to stereo from a 4 channel original. There is no equalization or other processing.

Miles Island, Seagull Lake
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
N48 08.439 W90 55.824
3:39-8:57 AM, July 9, 2013
Duration: 5:17:31

Assistant Recording Engineer: Jacob Dickinson
Navigator: Leif Dickinson

©2012-2013 Paul Dickinson


Episode 5: “Boundaries,” Part 2

This week’s stream continues with recordings from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

5-1: “Song Sparrow and Ravens”

TS_5-1 photo
We left our campsite for a day trip over to Jasper Lake. A Song Sparrow spent the morning singing from a tree near our campsite, while a family of Ravens called back and forth to each other. The occasional canoe party paddles nearby.

This recording was filtered to minimize the low frequency effects of wind noise.

Seagull Lake
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
N48° 8’41.83″  W90°55’50.38″
8:48-11:12 AM, July 8, 2013
Duration: 2:24:21

Navigator: Leif Dickinson

5-2: “Loons, Green Frogs, and Toads”

TS_5-2 photo
Late night recording from a bluff over looking three burned islands with plenty of rocks for reflections.

This unedited recording has a small amount of low frequency filtering.

Insula Lake
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
N47 55.814 W91 14.748
9:49 PM July 10, 2012 – 1:12 AM July 11, 2012
Duration: 3:22:17

Navigator: Leif Dickinson

©2012-13 Paul Dickinson

Episode 6: “Hiawatha Forest Evening, Then Morning”


In the heavily wooded bluff above Ned’s Lake, the trees are home to Hermit, Swainson’s, and Wood Thrushes, as well as Ovenbirds, Northern Flickers, Pileated Woodpeckers, and many more species. Also heard are Loons, Sandhill Cranes, Trumpeter Swans, Green Frogs, and an assortment of small mammals. Most of the rain showers throughout the night have been edited out, as have the most intrusive overflying jets.

This recording was edited for content and filtered to minimize the low frequency effects of wind and distant traffic noise.

Ned’s Lake – Big Island Lake Wilderness
Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan
N46 13.055 W86 31.360
6:00 PM-8:00 AM, June 20-21, 2013 (condensed)
Duration: 7:01:49

©2013 Paul Dickinson

Episode 7: “D Pool: A Calm Morning, After a Windy Night”

paul dickinson boundaries episode 7

Seney National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1935 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. The wild land that today is the refuge has not always appeared so wild. This is a land that was once heavily logged, burned, ditched, drained and cultivated. Despite repeated attempts, the soils and harsh conditions of this country would not provide a hospitable environment for sustained settlement and agriculture. So, nature claimed it once again. What was viewed as a loss by early 20th century entrepreneurs became a huge gain for the wildlife, natural resources and the people of Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula. – http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Seney/about.html

A windy, late spring night gives way to a rather calm morning, before the wind picks up again later. We can hear Wood Frogs, Trumpeter Swans, Wilson’s Snipe, Pied-Billed Grebe, Blue Jays, Red-winged Blackbirds, American Bittern, Sandhill Cranes, Ovenbirds, Common Loons, Red-eyed Vireo, and many more. (If you are an adept birder, I would welcome any other species identifications you can offer).

I made this recording during the 2011 Midwest Nature Recordists Campout. Many thanks to Sara Hollerich Giles and the staff of the SNWR for their cooperation and support of our activities.

This unedited recording was filtered to minimize the low frequency effects of wind and logging truck traffic noise.

D Pool: Morning, After a Windy Night
D Pool
Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Michigan
N46 16.171 W85 59.690
4:11 AM-10:25 AM, June 4, 2011
Duration: 6:13:57

©2011 Paul Dickinson

Episode 8: Big Island Revisited 

TS_8_Big Island Pic

No, not THAT Big Island. This Big Island lies in the middle of Big Island Lake in the Big Island Lake Wilderness Area of the Hiawatha National Forest in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I originally visited Big Island Lake in July of 2006, when early one morning, I recorded this loon takeoff: https://soundcloud.com/paul-dickinson/loon-takeoff
This July, I visited the same location and discovered a little more of the island’s geography. Deeper into the island, there is an old growth forest interspersed with small patches of wetland. This recording ran from approximately 7:30pm until 9:15 the following morning. The section presented here condenses the time frame from 10:12pm until 6:44am into just over 5 hours.

This recording was edited for timing and content, and filtered to minimize the low frequency effects of wind and occasional traffic noise. Technical info: 2- Audio-Technica AT3032 omnidirectional condenser microphones in a collapsible partially-baffled medium boundary array; Sound Devices MP-2 preamp; Olympus LS-11 recorder; 16 bit/48khz.

Big Island Revisited
Big Island Lake
Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan
N46°14’15.17″ W86°32’37.89″
10:12pm June 15 to 6:44am June 16, 2014 (condensed)
Duration: 5:03:59
©2014 Paul Dickinson

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