Running Time:

207 min

Release Date:

January 2018

Recording Location:

'Midway camp', above Boksavin village, at 2150m. Huon Peninsula, Papua New Guinea.

Papuan Dawn

Experience the mountain rainforest of Papua New Guinea’s remote Huon peninsula.

It is dark, before dawn. Insects chime and tiny frogs call from hidden places on the forest floor. As the light pales, the first birds begin singing. Prominent among them is the Regent Whistler, ruling the dawn chorus with whipcrack calls that echo through the trees. A soft chorus of cicadas begin fizzing intermittently, as more songbirds join in. 

Over the next hour there is a gradual transition from nocturnal voices to daytime birdsong. Once the dawn chorus ebbs, birds and insects are heard discreetly. For such a rich environment, there are periods of relative quiet. However rare denizens of these mountain rainforests make themselves heard, including ground-dwelling rails and scrub fowl. Meanwhile the various songs of exotic fantails, ifrits, robins, jewel babblers, meladectes and melampitas come and go, while fruit pigeons keep up a soft booming from the treetops.

This album is one continuous recording, allowing you to hear this precious forest environment as it is. Its three hour plus duration has been split into four tracks for convenience.

Andrew comments:

"The making of this recording involved all the planning and trekking hardships one would expect of undertaking field work in the mountains of New Guinea. The trip was co-ordinated by friend and sound recording colleague Tony Baylis, and images and recollections from our expedition can be viewed on the Australian Wildlife Sound Recording website.

"The recording was made at 2500 metres, an altitude just below the cloudforest proper. Here the clouds would gather and envelope the rainforest in mist each afternoon, but the mornings were clear. Many tropical species are restricted to specific altitudinal ranges, so the species community here results in a distinctive soundscape.

"This album is the result of four mornings recording. From our jungle campsite, I would set out around 4am, negotiating a slippery trail in the dark with my gear. On the first morning, I didn’t chance on a particularly worthwhile location. Exploring further along, I found the trail rounded a shoulder on the mountainside. Here the forest received more morning sunshine and opened up a little. It became the site I returned to over following days. Each morning was subtly different, and from them I feel this recording is the most interesting.

"Preparing the album in the studio has been a challenge, as the soundscape presented extremes of dynamics. The predawn was filled with sound; delicate but continuous. An hour after dawn however, everything had quietened down considerably, and sound became more nuanced. Birdsong would be distant, even muted, but then a Lesser Melampita would flit close by giving extraordinarily loud, and quite unbirdlike, snapping calls.

"I considered what do with these sonic vagaries. I could easily have used digital processing to ‘tame’ the melampita and balance the predawn chorus. But I’d like you to hear this soundscape authentically. I suggest setting your listening volume moderately (as realistic to nature as you can judge) to begin. Later, you may find there are sequences when not much seems to be happening, but when the melampita comes by, it is quite exhilarating.

"Many of the species heard here have been little documented. Of them, I’m particularly pleased by the clear recording of Forbes’s Forest Rails, which were foraging, muttering and calling very close to the microphones at times."


Audio sample of this album


The Dawn Chorus, with Regent Whistlers and Lesser Melampita



After the Dawn: Jewel Babblers, Robins, and a Chorus of Fruit Pigeons



Forbes's Forest Rails



Later Morning: Black Fantail, Blue-capped Ifrits, and the Melampita Returns


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