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Lichen lessons, whitethroat mimicry, and summer in Brazil | Newsletter #57 -

Lichen lessons, whitethroat mimicry, and summer in Brazil | Newsletter #57

Ĵakšı*, friend. 👋 

Which playlists from 2023 were the team’s favorites? What does a December day in the forests outside of Rio de Janeiro sound like? Can we learn life lessons from the humble lichen? And which avian visitor to Ireland is a spectacular mimic?

Read on to find out.

*An informal greeting in the Altai language.

Soundscape of the week 

🌏 ‘Whisper of a Mountain Stream’: The calming “smooth murmur” of water trickling over stones, recorded by Vladimir Bocharov during a hike through the Altai Mountains.

🤔 Interesting facts:

  • The mountainous Turkic Altai Republic (an administrative region of Russia), includes Mount Belukha – at 14,800 feet (4,506 m), the highest point in (the geographic region of) Siberia 
  • Forests cover 25% of the republic’s 35,800 sq mi (92,600 km²) territory, while the broader Altai region also encompasses “steppes, wild river, lakes, deserts, [and] snow capped mountain”. These habitats are home to fauna such as “hare, […] deer, bobac, East European woodchucks, lynx, polecat, snow leopard, wolves, bears, Argali sheep, Siberian ibex, [and] mountain goats”
  • Denisovans – a group of extinct hominins – were named after the Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains, where a juvenile female finger bone was excavated in 2008. These archaic humans coexisted with both Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, all of which interbred – meaning that their DNA lives on in modern humans.

Articles and essays

🔊 The team have shared their favorite recordings from the past year, creating a playlist of 35 soundscapes which range from grasslands to wetlands, Arctic tundra, desert, mountains, and any and every habitat in between, and from Africa to South Asia, the Balkans, Melanesia, Eastern Europe, and South America. What are your favorites?

🌎 “Can you feel the humidity?” ‘Summer Afternoon in the Atlantic Forest’, a recent episode of podcast Wind Is the Original Radio, documents a hot summer’s day in December, in the Brazilian forest near Rio: stillness enlivened by cicadas, insects, and distant birds. Additional episodes are available on Apple and Google podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher, with new episodes released every Friday.

From the extended community

5️⃣ “Crustose lichens grow less than a centimeter a year, and live all sorts of lifetimes, some up to 10,000 years. Find possibility in deceleration. There is no rush.” ‘5 Tips on How to Live like a Lichen’ invites us to learn “simple lessons from a complex life form”. 

📺 In this brief clip from The Tommy Tiernan Show, Irish ornithologist and nature sound recordist Seán Ronayne shares an anecdote about the migratory common whitethroat – “astounding […] mimics” which split their time between Ireland and Senegal. 

⏺️ The latest episode of Field & Foley, a podcast which welcomes “a new guest from the wonderful world of sound” every two weeks, features curator Melissa Pons in conversation, along with a comprehensive list of relevant online resources.

👉🏽 Follow us on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, for a daily dose of nature-sound inspiration!

Until next time, we wish you a regenerative week. 🙏

With best wishes,
Neil and Team

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Neil Clarke is an independent comics writer based in East London, who really wishes he could draw.