Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is a massive inland peninsula, bordered by sections of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers that were permanently flooded as a part of FDR’s New Deal.
Humans changed this landscape, but now birds have claimed it - and they are flourishing.
Gordon Hempton: BirdNote Presents.
Ashley Ahearn: This is Sound Escapes, a special production from BirdNote. I’m Ashley Ahearn.
Today our guide, Gordon Hempton, will take us to the border of Kentucky and Tennessee, just 50 miles outside of Nashville.
[Dripping water and crickets]
Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is a massive inland peninsula, bordered by sections of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers that were permanently flooded as a part of FDR’s New Deal. The damming of the rivers in the mid 1900s submerged lots of little towns and farms and old family cemeteries. If you take a trip to the park and you have a boat, you can actually still see the ruins of some of the towns, deep beneath the surface.
Humans changed this landscape, but now birds have claimed it - and they are flourishing. The course of the rivers and the shape of their broad valleys draw hundreds of species of birds here in the spring.
And, good news for us: it’s quiet here. Gordon Hempton was drawn to that quiet when he captured this recording. If you haven’t already, you can hear Gordon’s story in episode 1 of this podcast. He’s our sonic guide and the creator of this series…
Gordon Hempton: Because of the lakes we don’t have neighboring towns and villages or railroads and things like that. So it also offers sonic isolation.
Ashley Ahearn: We’ll start on a beautiful spring morning, right as the sun starts to rise.
Gordon Hempton: The spring migration has finished. We’re listening to spring bird song, where everybody’s pretty much setting up shop for the season.
[Spring bird song]
Ashley Ahearn: You’ll hear spring quickly turn to summer. Then an afternoon thunderstorm rolls in. Put on your headphones and listen to the raindrops near and far as they bring volume and depth to our listening experience.
Finally, you’ll hear an insect chorus and owls awakening on a fall evening...
Gordon Hempton: Simply by holding still, you become, for all practical purpose, invisible.
Ashley Ahearn: Now to keep still, and listen:
[Soundscape of Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area]
Ashley Ahearn: Thank you for joining us on this sonic adventure in the Land Between the Lakes.
And thank you to Gordon Hempton for creating this series for BirdNote.
BirdNote is your little slice of nature, every single day, available as a podcast or on your local public radio station. Find out more at BirdNote Dot Org.
And while you’re there, if you’re curious about the birds you heard in this episode, our master birder-by-ear, Dr. Bob Sundstrom, put together a list of the birds as they appeared in this recording.
And we have more episodes in store for you. Next time, we’ll take a ride on the Mississippi River and experience the overwhelming beauty of a spring morning… with a unique literary twist.
Thanks for listening to Sound Escapes, from BirdNote. I’m Ashley Ahearn.
This show is made possible by Jim and Birte Falconer of Seattle, Idie Ulsh, and the Horizons Foundation.
[Birds and insects]