Other, see notes
Caught in mist net; Distress call
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
7 Jun 2003
- Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park; Lily Lake Trail
- 55.46389 -114.79778
- HHB PORTADAT PDR 1000
- Sennheiser MKH 30
- Sennheiser MKH 50
Stereo=1; Decoded MS stereo; Sennheiser MKH50 Hypercardioid Mid Mic and MKH30 Bidirectional Side Mic
Show: Boreal Songbirds
Log of DAT #: 4
Engineer: Marcia Caldwell
Date: June 7, 2003
MC: Four. It is still Saturday. We are still in the same location as tape number three which is the forest, it had a name, Lake Trail or something. This is where we've been and it's not probably about...it's 8:17 in the morning on this Saturday and I'm going to continue on with the MS recording, MKH50 and 30 combination, MS stereo with the cardioid on the left channel. That's all I have for now.
MC: Little bridge over it on the path here.
Ambi. Loud stream.
MC: Just from the middle and a little back¿.hold on.
Ambi. Stream, but further away.
MC: A bit of the same stream, above a hill, above it.
Ambi. Stream. Even quieter with some bird sounds.
MC: About a hundred yards away from the stream.
Ambi. Stream with very loud birds.
Ambi. Good bird. Only one call. Pretty distinct.
Ambi. Same bird with another one in the background. Quieter.
Ambi. Forest. Quiet birds with an occasional loud one.
Ambi. Forest with loud birds.
Ambi. Breathing, mike sounds.
MC: Ok, we're back up by where the van is parked and there's a big antenna farm which I'm picking up here, but we're trying to see if I can get this White-throated Sparrow in the clear and maybe these radio waves will clear up right when I need them to.
Ambi. Walking. Some static. Birds.
Ambi. Loud birds.
Ambi. Birds. Static.
FF: That's the Canada Warbler. They're a pretty rare bird. A lot of birders covet this bird, you know, to find it. But we got lots.
EA: Look how tiny it is.
FF: Yeah. And there's coming, like, from Mexico, Central America. It's just mind-boggling.
EA: Wow, yeah, and how a little tiny bird can do that.
FF: Yeah, it's just mind-boggling, especially the younger the year. They just fly back to where they're supposed to fly back to. And how do they know, right? It's just amazing. He's banded this one. You can see the little band there so he's probably breeding now in this area. There's a little band there.
EA: So was he banded here, do you think?
FF: Oh yeah. I'm sure. He's probably¿
EA: Is he frightened right now? Must be totally frightened, right?
FF: A little bit. Yeah. A little bit.
EA: He's like, what am I doing in this net?
FF: But they come and they check the nets regularly, like every fifteen minutes so they're very contentious and¿
EA: And what will they do with this one since he's already been banded?
FF: They'll just take a quick look at the number and make sure it's our bird, because, like you said it could, you know, wow, if it was a foreign recovery, wow, that would be something, but chances are this time of year it's a breeding bird. It's on territory now, that's why it keeps flying into the net so it's probably nesting just in this vicinity¿they'll just release it once they identify it, that it's from here. But that's one of the things, of course, that you're counting on with the banding, is that you're really hoping that another station, another means, somebody will find one of your birds along its migration route and report it back to either yourself or the banding office in the United States or Canada and then, you know, we get a record eventually, saying that so and so recovered your bird in Guatemala. So, it's a slow process to put these pieces together and it's a bit miraculous when it does happen because a puny little bird like that having to fly into your net in the first place and then fly into another person's net along the way. But then of course, the idea is if you find it when it's dead you're supposed to report too, the fact that you found this thing and what band number was on the bird.
MC: Let me get a little audio¿I hate to do it, but it's struggling a little bit.
Ambi. Talking. Static.
MC: Ok. We're at this place where the birders are all meeting and we're out in the little forest here with all the people around¿
Ambi. Talking about setting up.
EA: When did you first come up here?
FF: Um, I came up here in March of 1990.
EA: How come?
FF: Well, I had a job offer and I needed to find fulltime employment in my chosen career which is a very difficult career to find gainful employment in which is what they call heritage appreciation these days and back then we kind of called it interpretation, but basically, interpreting the environment to the public and to schools groups so there was kind of an opportunity here and it seemed like a good idea.
EA: And you stayed here fourteen years, thirteen fourteen years.
FF: I've been here thirteen years. That's right.
EA: So, it's a special place for you.
FF: Absolutely. Yeah. It really grows on you.
EA: You know, most people don't even know what a Boreal Forest is. I mean, most Americans anyway. I don't know about Canadians.
FF: Canadians do.
EA: Canadians do?
FF: Yeah, because most live on the border or just north of the border, US, Canada border.
EA: Well, as a person who does what you do, it must be kind of frustrating for you.
FF: Well, in a way, you know, because you're living in this extremely interesting, rich environment that is basically an unknown to a vast majority of human being and you see the wonderful life of the B. Forest, incredible intricacy, and complicated ecosystem that it is and you also learn through reading and being here that it's the largest ecosystem in the world, but it's kind of out of sight, out of mind, for a vast majority of people.
EA: But at the same time a lot of people think, yeah, it's way up there, it's wilderness and we don't have to worry about it, and you're kind of surrounded by development, aren't you?
FF: Yes. Yes. That's a bit of a misnomer. That is a misnomer that the Boreal Forest is untouched, pristine wilderness. It's no longer the case. It's had a lot of development, now, and it's getting more as time goes by. It's definitely a wilderness area that has a lot of industrial activity.
EA: How far were we from industrial activity when we were, I mean roughly, when we were hiking today in the Boreal.
FF: Um within earshot practically, of industrial activity. Like, where we were is in the northeast corner of western Slave Lake Provincial Park and the park boundary is very close to a number of what they call what they call forest management agreements in Canada so in other words, there are forest industries very close to the park. Wouldn't take much to find it if you stepped outside the boundary of the park.
EA: And there's oil and gas development as well.
FF: And there's oil and gas development. There's oil and gas development in numerous areas. There's even oil and gas development in the park, but it predated the establishment of the park and the agreement was that once the oil is been extracted, the oil company basically has to reclaim the site and leave the park, but yeah, there's, you can drive through the park here and see a number of active well sites.
EA: Do you feel like you have a little oasis that you're trying to protect?
FF: Uh, some days. Um, in parks we tend to think these days more in terms of landscape level, management. We're only a very small part of the solution. I think that protected spaces are absolutely critical to the well being of the functioning Boreal ecosystem. You've got to have them and probably we need more of the larger size than we have at the moment. A lot of good things have happened recently in our area, but I think there may be need yet for larger areas to be set aside and also, the whole idea of cooperate with other land users, ie forestry, oil etc to integrate what we do so we try and basically, connect protected spaces with other areas to conserve and preserve the integrity and diversity of life in the Boreal forest.
EA: Connect and coexist.
FF: Absolutely, yeah.
EA: Why do you give a damn?
FF: I...that's a good question. There's something innate in me about caring about the outdoors and nature. I came by this naturally. I really can't tell you why. It was something in me. I've always been attuned to the outdoors. When I was a little boy, I would be very happy to go out on the street and look at ants for hours or go down to my local creek and look at the fish, the crayfish and stuff. It's just been a part of my essence, really, and the more I've done this and got to know my surroundings better, the more fascinating it became because the more you know, the less you know and I started to realize, wow, what a fantastic world it is I'm a part of and it just sort of grew on me.
EA: Are birds a big part of it for you?
FF: You know, uh, yeah. I'm actually originally from the west coast of Canada and I know seabirds, at least I did, a lot better than I knew the land birds because seabirds were a big part of my environment, but since I came to the Boreal forest, it just strikes you as soon as spring arrives that there are all these beautiful jewel-like birds coming from who knows where, back then when I first saw them, and I just thought, I've got to find out more about these birds and their beautiful colors, and they're different kinds and they're very exotic looking and the forest can become totally alive from these wonderful singing songsters from Mexico, South America, Central America, so now they're a huge part of my life. Huge!
EA: Well, like you were saying, the more you know, the less you know. Today on the hike I realized how much I didn't know about birds. You guys were¿
FF: Yeah, and as you get into it and as because you start to know the birds, in this case by song, let alone sight, all of a sudden a bird calling in the bush is no longer just a bird calling in the bush. It's a specific bird. It could even me an individual to someone like me because I've been here long enough to know there's probably going to be a Magnolia Warbler in this part of the park because they're very territorial and they do come back to the same patch year after year and so it's probably the same bird. So, it's really rich. It' incredibly satisfying to know more about what you're hearing, you know where they go, what they eat, and even the conservation status¿.it's really neat.
EA: Do you think some of the folks who came here today, who love birds, that the key to protecting places like this could be the bird?
FF: Yeah, I really think so because birding is such a visible activity. Everybody knows birds in one shape, form or another. It could be your backyard chickadees, or crows or whatever, but that interest, I think, that's innate in everybody about animals is certainly a part of people's appreciation of birds and probably the more they know about the conservation status of these little birds that they love, clearly there's this huge passion for birds cross the Americas, hopefully that translates into some active participation in trying to know more about them and help to protect them where it's needed.
EA: Birds. Habitat. Protection. Are you optimistic about Alberta or pessimistic about the Boreal?
FF: I'm optimistic. I've been an optimist, though, my whole life.
EA: I guess you have to be.
FF: Yeah¿. I am because I feel that once people do start to understand and hear about and know about this environment, they're going to start to, well they already have, but even more so, become actively engaged in what's happening in the Boreal Forest and be more participate more in terms of helping to decide what happens here. I'm very optimistic. I think that a lot of the initiatives that have happened in the last couple of years, mostly around birds, the North American Bird Conservation Initiative and some of these joint ventures that are going on are all signs of that type of new found emphasis on birds an by protecting birds you protect many other creatures and many other plant communities as well.
EA: And habitat.
FF: And habitat. Habitat being the most critical.
EA: Tell us who you are.
FF: Ok, I'm Frank Fraser and I work for Parks and Protected Areas, which is part of Alberta Community Developments and I'm the Heritage Appreciation Team leader for the northeast and the northwest area of the providence.
EA: You're also in charge of this bird festival.
FF: And I'm, Yes, I also have a role in the bird festival here. Yes. And the bird observatory.
EA: Great. That wasn't too painful, right?
EA: Alright. Great. Thank you.
Ambi. Talking about leaving and mentioning the center in the piece etc.
MC: Go ahead and walk in front of me so I'll try and get the sound of you guys walking. So we're walking by the bird nets back to camp here.
FF: ¿even sparrows, you know, a lot of people call them LBBs, right? Little brown jobs¿
Ambi. Discussing sparrow.
EA: But, how is this warbler different from the Canada Warbler?
FF: Well, for starters, its size is different. It's smaller, so right away you know it's a different bird. The color, the plumage, is different. It's, the back is not the same color, not as dark and there's this yellow markings on the head here that the Canada doesn't have.
EA: White around the eyes?
FF: Yeah, eye rings is sometimes indicative of what type of bird you're looking at.
EA: But, what were you going to say?
FF: Just the color to on the body itself.
EA: Oh, his little heart is pounding¿I just think warblers are SO hard.
EA: No, hard to identify. There's so many kinds, I mean.
FF: Yeah, there's you know, up to 23 different kids we get here, so, um ,yeah, but that's part of the thrill and part of the challenge to figure out how to you tell the difference. Some of them, the sexing, and all that is incredibly difficult. There's this manual we have where you're getting down to the point where you're looking at the coloration of individual feathers to tell the difference.
EA: So you have to be this close, like we are?
FF: Yeah, and sometimes have the bird physically in the hand, meticulously looking at the plumage to tell the difference, yeah.
Ambi. Walking. Laughing in the background.
Ambi. Festival. Loud bird sound with talking in the background.
Ambi. Festival. Bird sounds with talking.
MC: Yeah, I got another Canada.
Ambi. Walking and talking.
Ambi. Festival. Loud talking about catching birds, going for a walk, etc. Laughing.
Ambi. EA and FF talking about the history of the festival. Loud background of people talking, cars starting, etc.
Ambi. Festival. People chatting.
MC: Ok, so what we just heard was the interview with Frank. Then we heard the walk back from the interview and we passed a net that had a Canadian Warbler in it and we heard the guy taking it out of the net. Then we walked back to the parking lot and the ambience of the birders convention.
Jack oil pump. Loud.
MC: Ok, that the jack pump by the side of the road and some cars going by.
MC: We're by the car and we're going to drive up, get out, and walk into the Boreal.
Ambi. Car beeping. Preparing to start, talking about waiting for the truck to go by.
Ambi. Car doors slamming, getting out of the car.
Ambi. Forest. Standing still, talking about getting enough audio.
MC: What do we call this? What do we call this place? For the tape. I want to slate the tape, and¿.
Ambi. Talking about the location.
MC: So, we're at the Calling Lake Field Camp. We're trying to record the White Throated Sparrow who's right here.
Ambi. Talking about the bird having flown away and Richard's strong feelings on everything.
EA: What a tease¿.
Ambi. Talking about the flycatcher birds.