Deluge at Dawn
Zarnesti has given me what are undoubtedly my fondest memories of our trip to Romania. It was such a beautiful place – so quiet, so verdant and just a wonderful place to be. We travelled there with nowhere to stay and we picked a house up in the hills at random and it just happened to belong to a truly amazing retired older couple. They made us feel like we were visiting family and they had us sit down with them in their warm and hearty living room for a chat and some delicious homemade traditional food.
That evening myself and Alba wandered back down the hill to lower ground where we found ourselves in a National Park, surrounded by lush forest with abundant sources of running water. This was important as I always love to combine dawn choruses with gentle streams – for me this is a dreamy combination and always lulls me to sleep when I am having trouble nodding off.
I checked the weather forecast and saw that there were some rain showers to come so I set about finding a spot where I could leave my drop-rig (Zoom F6 + stereo set of Clippy EM272s) out safely. There were some hiking trails which were quite popular with tourists and locals, so, after walking far enough away from the little dirt road and car park, I again took another smaller track off the main trail. There I found a little valley with a gentle stream. I followed this stream about 50 metres uphill where I was stopped in my tracks by my first ever Salamander! It was so strikingly black and yellow and it was a dream come true for me – I had always wanted to see one. I was starstruck!
Along this stream there was a fallen tree trunk which traversed its entirety and leaned up into the hillside. Walking a few metres up the hill so that the stream did not overwhelm the track, I set my mics just an inch or two inside a rotten crevice of the fallen tree. I knew they would be safe from the rain and would result in a natural sound when rain did fall. I hooked my drop rig up to a power-bank, hid the recorder in a drybag, covered by some leaf litter, and left it to do its job.
That night I was awoken by the rain and was so nervous thinking about my expensive equipment out there unsupervised. It was the first time I had left it out like that, knowing heavy rain was on the horizon. The following morning I went straight down to the valley and collected my equipment – it was bone dry AND I saw another Salamander! It was bigger than the last one and hung around for a closer look.
Before breakfast I uploaded my sounds and was totally blown away. Zero road noise, only a handful of planes, a mesmerising deluge of rain, a stunning dawn chorus amidst a subtle trickling stream, and, best of all, a mystery shape on the sonogram at the end of the track which turned out to be none other than a pair of fighting Brown Bears. I couldn’t have asked for more.