Horchata / Michael Palace - Tapajos National Forest

My first trip to the Amazon was to Cauaxi, Para, Brazil and we slept in hammocks under a thatched roof structure with no walls and a plastic tarp on top. I had just bought a mini-disc recorder and a nice stereo microphone. I recorded as much as I could. My trip there was with Michael Keller, Greg Asner, Jeff Hicke and Kevin Cody. Later that year, 2000, I did preliminary field work at the Tapajos National Forest, where I would spend the next five years doing field research on necromass and coarse woody debris or in layman’s terms logs, dead trees and branches. I have visited Tapajos about eleven times, usually every six months to measure newly fallen coarse woody debris. I have about 20 mini discs of recordings from my visits and I plan to compile these recordings in the near future. Juruena, Mato Grosso is another site I have conducted field work at and have some audio recordings from there as well.

This recording is from when I was doing some initial transects of fallen necromass, but I was also waking up before dawn and measuring gap fraction or light penetration into the forest. Basically, one would setup one device to measure automatically above the canopy and then one walk through the forest measuring along cut transects recording measurements every meter. One researcher could measure about 2 km before light conditions changed. This required carrying a large unwieldy battery pack with about 12 D cells and a key pad from the 1970’s attached to a measuring wand. The cord would get caught on branches, dew would make your boots soaked and heavy, and stumbling through the forest was the norm. A transect was cut to minimize impact on the vegetation but pointed ends of small saplings cut with a machete would constantly hit your shins. Measurements needed to be made at dawn or dusk, in diffuse light conditions so to avoid light flecks. During these times of the day the forest is the most acoustically vibrant. Insects, frogs, birds, and other animals are at their noisiest. People always view forests as placid and serene places. They are, just not in the way that most nature shows or new age alarm clocks with rainforest sounds portray the forest.

In this recording I set up the mini disc recorder and microphone and left it to record while I went to do measurements. In the beginning you can hear me set up the microphone and walk into the forest with my field guide Fransico, who lived near the research site and worked with me for a number of years. The area that we recorded was near a road used by researchers and at one point you can hear a truck go by. At the end you can hear me come out of the woods and get picked up by the other researchers. Also of note are the cicadas and their cycling of calls, a branch fall, and some animal that went up and curiously examined the recording equipment. The photos are from the Tapajos but from a later trip with Steve Hagen, who helped me collect data on necromass density as well as measuring fallen necromass along with Rob Braswell. I want to also thank my wife Shannon Poulin for allowing me to wander around the tropical forests of Amazonia, recording sounds and measuring dead wood. I also want to thank Nathan and Mike of Wanderingear.com for putting this up on the website.

I write this on the eve of my dissertation defense, November 2006, New Hampshire.

Other recordings from Michael Palace
Music composed by Michael Palace

Download Full Album:

we003 - Horchata / Michael Palace - Tapajos National Forest (102 MB)

Download Tracks:

Track 01 - Tapajos National Forest (102 MB)

Download High Resolution Album Booklet:

we003 - Horchata / Michael Palace - Tapajos National Forest (2.91 MB)

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