musical notes -
Dawn in Madagascar Rainforest - nature soundscape -

Dawn in Madagascar Rainforest

Recordist: George Vlad
Masoala Peninsula, Madagascar


Madagascar’s rainforests are incredibly biodiverse, but the soundscapes can be surprisingly understated. Bird life is varied but birdsong isn’t overly lush or busy everywhere. Insects can be loud but they don’t call at all times of day and night. Being in these rainforests reminded me of exploring cloud forests in Ethiopia or Costa Rica, where the soundscapes tend to be similarly thin because of low temperatures and extreme weather.

Of all the rainforests I’ve visited in Madagascar, Masoala seems to be home to the most complex and lush soundscapes. The best moment to experience this is clearly the dawn chorus, although dusk choruses can also be pretty lively.

Getting a good clean recording of these soundscapes was no easy task though. Masoala is a peninsula surrounded by the waters of the Indian Ocean. The sound of waves crashing on sandy and rocky beaches can carry for many miles. Fast and noisy rivers run at the bottom of valleys nestled between steep hillsides. There are occasional boats moving around, although this is far less of a problem than in other parts of the world I’ve been to.

I had about 10 sound recording rigs with me on this trip and I used them all. In some locations I wasn’t too happy with the results as I was hearing too much of the distant sea or creeks/rivers. Others were much more promising, like the stretch of lowland secondary rainforest I captured this recording in. Here I was able to record clean birdsong with good forest acoustics and soft water drops falling on vegetation for many hours at a time.

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