The tracks recorded are soundscapes of the natural environments where the lynx has its lair, nests and hunts. These recordings were made in the wilds of Lapland, in the secretive and eerily silent forest of Kainuu, from the lake district of North Savo with its mixed forests of conifers and leafy trees and finally from the woods of Estonia and Latvia. On tracks 1 and 17, you can hear the actual sound of a lynx in its natural habitat, not in a zoo or wildlife reserve. In addition, the album contains the sounds of other rarely recorded animals in their natural habitats, moose, pine marten, wood hare, badger, reindeer, bear, roe deer and fox.
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the many people who have helped in the creation of this album. Today more and more people are interested in listening to the sounds of the wilderness. Feedback from my audience has been positive in many respects and very encouraging. I received one particularly moving response from the mother of a severely disabled child. She told me that the Nature Resounds albums had provided her with an entirely new way to communicate with her child. Whenever she played one of the Nature Resounds CDs, the child’s disposition changed dramatically to display feelings of happiness, satisfaction and bursting with the joy of life.
It is very difficult to capture the sounds of these animals since they live in such remote and hostile environments. The extremely low temperatures can damage the recording equipment. Finding a good recording location is also a challenge – you need to be well acquainted with where and when these shy animals move and have a good knowledge of their habits and habitats. I have needed a lot of help to overcome these challenges and I want to express my gratitude to those involved. I am grateful to the Friends of the Kuopio Natural Heritage (Kuopion Luonnon Ystäväin Yhdistys r.y.) for providing financial support for this project – without this help, this project would never have been completed. I would also like to express my warm thanks to my wife, Maarit, for her support and encouragement.
Producer / Recording engineer
The lynx is mainly a nocturnal animal but it is also active at around dusk and dawn. This animal has two characteristic traits – its tufty tassel-like ears and its stump of a tail. Its furry coat can be coloured either greyish or reddish-brown. This wild cat has broad and large paws, and in the snow they can be mistaken for the tracks of a wolverine or a wolf. An adult lynx can weigh anything from 15 – 29 kg. The lynx is the only endogenous feline predator living in Finland – in fact it is the most numerous predator in our country.
The lynx’s preferred prey species is the roe deer. When pursuing its prey, the lynx can reach speeds of 80 km /h. The lynx tries to creep up on its prey and then when close it leaps forward in an attempt to surprise the prey animal, for example a roe deer, a white-tailed deer or a wood hare. During the winter, the lynx will feed on sleeping grouse. The lynx’s diet consists of small mammals and it may also kill and eat a fox. Like all wild cats, the lynx has excellent night vision. When the snow is firm underfoot, a lynx can travel as much as 20 kilometers in one night in search of food. However, when the snow is more yielding underfoot, the animal does not travel such great distances. As day breaks, the lynx will seek out its sleeping perch, normally one with an unrestricted view such as the top of a boulder or a large rock.
The natural habitat of the lynx is remote, varied terrain in uninhabited forest and woodlands. It nests in spruce-filled wilderness, woody thickets, in forests with elevated boulders and rocky ridges. Its nest will be in an opening underneath the rock or in a natural crevasse made from the roots of trees, or in the cracked hollows of large boulders.
The lynx leads the life of a solitary hermit except during the mating season starting in March when the wild cat seeks a partner. As much as a few weeks before the start of the mating season, the lynxes call out to each other with their raspy roars. When the females are in heat, the males will fight with each other for access to the females. After mating, the lynx pregnancy lasts about 10 weeks and the lynx mother will normally give birth to a brood of two to three pups in May-June.
Track descriptions and background species
01 THE LYNX 12.03.2013 at 02.30 Kuopio, Hirvilahti. The twinkling of a myriad of stars and the beams of an almost full moon lighten the dark of the wooded landscape of North Savo. The majestic fir trees are blanketed with snow and their shadows are cast sharply on the snowcovered ground. It is extremely cold at this time just before daybreak and the only sound in the forest is the occasional sharp cracking sounds of contacting wood. The dim moonlight gives just enough light to make out the tracks of a predator which has crossed a small clearing in the woods. The tracks disappear up a snow-covered slope going up towards a huge boulder. The predator is a lynx, the wild cat of the northern regions. The tracks in the snow head upwards to the base of a boulder, the animal has leaped on top of it so that it can survey its surroundings and have a secure sleeping spot. From its guard post it listens intently to the world before raising its head and emitting its mating call which carries to all four corners of this sea of forest. In the still silence of the deep cold, the call of the male lynx carries far into the wilderness; perhaps in some other part of this frozen landscape it will be heard by a female lynx. In this track you can hear two series of mating calls from a male lynx. The second in the series is further away, somewhat muted. During the mating season in March-April, a male lynx may travel as much as twenty kilometers in a single night as it seeks out a female companion.
02 IN THE WOODED LANDSCAPE OF THE RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER 13.05.2014 at 05.50 Estonia, Matsalu, Haeska. A small, narrow stream meanders through dense wood. In the densest part of the wood, slender birch and larch trees form an arch over the stream. The green sphagnum moss on the bank of the stream is decorated by sprigs of blueberry and sedge grass. Further away, the fallen trunk of an old aspen tree is the home to moss, lichen and mushrooms. It is in spots like this that the roe deer come to drink at the stream and here the lynx will lie silently waiting for the prey to arrive. Common blackbird, Common chaffinch, Common cuckoo, Great tit, Common wood pigeon, Dunnock.
03 THE MOOSE 11.09.2013 at 06.10 Suonenjoki, Lempyy. A dense wood stands by the edge of the swamp. Saplings of birch and rowan trees are growing around a clearing in the woods; this is favoured summer pasture for the moose. The abundance of saplings as well as the feast of aquatic plants act like a magnet in the summer for the moose. This peaceful spot in the forest is also home to a lynx family. The lynx mother is raising her pups in these secluded thickets. The lynx may well come across a moose calf and try to kill it, especially if other less dangerous prey is not available. The mating season of the moose starts in early autumn. In this track, you can hear the characteristic mating calls of young bull moose.
04 IN THE WOODED LANDSCAPE OF THE URAL OWL 14.06.2012 at 02.12 Kuopio, Hirvilahti. In the sultry heat of the summer, the mother lynx is sheltering her pups in the shade of the fir trees and leafy shrubs. This location is also home to a family of Ural owls. The young owl chicks have just learned to fly so they are now safe from predators creeping around the ground and can seek protection from airborne attacks from a hawk by hiding in the bushes. The mother owl can now leave her chicks as she leaves the nest in search of food. The clucking cries of the hungry chicks calling for their mother can be heard echoing through the early morning landscape. In this track you can hear the return of the mother owl as she comes to feed the hungry chicks in the early morning as well as the dawn chorus from smaller birds as they greet the rising sun. Eurasian robin, Common redstart, Common cuckoo, Goldcrest.
05 PINE MARTEN 17.08.2013 at 00.30 Kuopio, Hirvilahti. Pine martens make their homes in forests where there are dead-standing trees with large hollows, fir trees with squirrels’ nests as well as boulder-strewn, moss-covered wilderness. These are the kinds of places where the golden-furred marten hunts and builds its nest. During the day, the pine marten will rest in old hollows made by black woodpeckers or in empty squirrel nests in the fir trees. During the winter, the pine marten leads the life of a solitary hermit. In the winter you can see its characteristic twin tracks in the snow after it leaves its nest to hunt under the twinkling stars. As day breaks, the pine marten seeks a suitable resting place. When the winter winds howl and the snow swirls, the pine marten wisely stays curled up in its cozy nest. The pine marten is still a solitary traveler in the early spring but the summer is the mating season of this small predator. At that time, the silence of the wilderness is shattered by the characteristic wild call of the pine marten as it seeks a mate.
06 IN THE WOODED LANDSCAPE OF THE NORTHERN GOSHAWK 11.04.2010 at 06.13, Kaavi, Syrjävaara. During the winter, the Northern Goshawk and the lynx hunt grouse in the forest. During the depths of winter, these game birds such as black grouse, its hazel cousin and the willow ptarmigan burrow into the snow for shelter. However, at times the birds have to leave their snow burrows for a few hours and seek food in the trees. At this time, a Northern Goshawk may be able to pounce on a weakened bird. During the night, the lynx can prey on the birds as they cower in their burrows. When the lynx finds evidence that a bird is nearby, it creeps up near to the burrow and as the bird tries to flee, the lynx bounds forward to trap its prey. The mating season of the Northern Goshawk takes place in April. In this track, you can hear the courtship ritual of a pair of Northern Goshawks recorded at the edge of a swamp in an ancient conifer forest. Black grouse, European robin, Great spotted woodpecker, Common chaffinch.
07 WOOD HARE 15.09.2013 at 02.20, Suonenjoki, Lempyy. Thickets of leafy trees and bushes are the favoured habitat of the Wood Hare. You can also find hares living in the bushes around abandoned meadows, in tall grass and in openings in the forest filled with saplings. The hare is active during the night and also in the hours just before dusk and just after dawn; during the day, the hare will hide around the roots of a spruce or juniper tree. In the summer, the hare feasts on leaves, twigs and the stems of grasses but in the winter it has to make do with the bark of aspen or birch trees and the twigs of bushes. Normally the Wood Hare is a silent creature but when attacked by a lynx or some other predator it screeches a whining scream. The hare is a good runner and can reach speeds of 60 km/h. However, the lynx can make a short spurt at speeds as high as 80 km/h and thus it can catch a fleeing hare. In this track, you can hear the sound made by a hare at around dawn in an autumn morning as it moves around the forest foraging for food.
08 IN THE WOODED LANDSCAPE OF THE BADGER 25.06.2013 at 03.20 Kuopio, Riistavesi. Badgers prefer an environment where there are silt-covered slopes covered with a carpet of blueberry plants and meadows shaded by leafy trees. Badgers will build a den (sometimes called a sett) on the side of a bank so that they can create a network of tunnels. The animal will leave its lair in search of food at dusk. It moves around in the shadows of the conifers rustling the leaves as it heads for a meadow. Once there, it carefully gathers the smells around it before digging into the forest floor to uncover worms and seeds. As the dew falls and mist shrouds the meadow, the badger checks for scents of danger before venturing into a clearing where it follows the path of a ditch. As the sun rises, the badger moves into the shadows and makes its way back to its lair. During the winter, the badger spends its time sleeping in a sett it has prepared in a cave. The recording equipment was placed in a grove of fir trees so that it could capture the sounds of a badger. On the track, you can hear the low grunts and scratching sound of a badger against background of a Goldcrest singing in the fir tree. Goldcrest, Dunnock ja Common chaffinch.
09 EURASIAN PYGMY OWL 13.09.2013 at 06.30 Suonenjoki, Lempyy. At the edge of the forest clearing, a Eurasian Pygmy Owl sits atop a young fir tree singing to celebrate the light of the morning. On this September morning, the owls express the extent of their hunting territory with an autumn song. In the gloom of the hours of dusk and dawn, the birds let forth their characteristic call to warn off any other male owls in their vicinity. As winter approaches, the Pygmy Owl starts to horde food for the winter. All around its territory, one can find hollows in trees stuffed full of dead mice and shrews placed there by a Pygmy Owl. When winter is at its harshest and other food sources have disappeared, then the owl can fall back on its natural larder. At the start of this track you can hear a series of shrill cries by a Pygmy Owl and then later there are two owls making passionate calls to mark the bounds of their territories.
10 IN THE WOODED LANDSCAPE OF THE REINDEER 03.06.2013 at 23.20 Savukoski, Akanvaara. The lynx is no friend to the reindeer herders. Should the populations of hare and grouse fall, then the lynx may turn to reindeer for its food. Especially in late spring-early summer when the reindeer are calving, the newborn reindeer calves are easy prey for the lynx. An adult reindeer is a much more dangerous opponent for a lynx since it can defend itself – a hefty blow from a reindeer can even kill a lynx. In the early summer before it gets too hot, the reindeer graze in the forests and aapa swamps. By the middle of June, when the mosquito population explodes, the reindeer make their way to the upper slopes of the fells where the insects are kept at bay by the wind. On this track, you can hear the calves and adult female reindeer in the forest pastures. The sensual glow of the midnight sun bathes the entire landscape. At this time the birds of this part of Lapland sing through the night to the accompaniment of the bells around the necks of the reindeer and the call-response sounds of the calves and their mothers.Brambling, Tree pipit, Common cuckoo, Redwing, Willow warbler, Black grouse, Siberian jay, Song thrush.
11 BEAR 20.05.2012 at 03.33 Hyrynsalmi, Ukko-Halla. It is landscape full of swampy ponds and tree-covered hillsides. By the edge of the pond, you can find a carpet of sphagnum moss but further away from the edge of the water where the trees grow, there is a hummock of moss embroidered with Labrador Tea plants and Dwarf Birch trees. Sticking out of the moss carpet one can make out the deep green leaves of cloudberry plants just blossoming into flower. By this idyllic aquatic landscape by the wall of willow trees, there is a small gap bathed in sunlight between the trees. Dotted around are tall dead-standing trees almost like watchful guardians. Here the mother bear has brought up her cub in the early summer. It was quite a surprise to be able to capture the sounds of a bear. The recording equipment had been hidden in the woods near the lakeside and it clearly captured the sound of a mother bear. During its morning patrol, the bear had picked up the scent of the device. The first part of the track has the bear picking up the scent in its nostrils and she starts to make a cough-like sound, very similar to a human. A few moments later and the bear approaches the microphones growling as she nears them but after she convinces herself that they are harmless, she moves away. Red wing, European robin, Dunnock, Willow warbler, Song thrush, Eurasian siskin.
12 IN THE WOODED LANDSCAPE OF THE HAZEL GROUSE AND THE WILLOW TIT 05.05.2013 at 05.20 Kuopio, Kaislastenlahti. The grey and brown coloured hazel grouse is so well camouflaged that it is very difficult to see when it sits still on the lower branches of a fir tree against a background of alder and fir tree saplings. It is equally difficult to spot the grey-coated lynx in this kind of habitat. The Wood Hare is another animal that likes the habitat of the Hazel Grouse. For this reason, this kind of landscape is good hunting ground for the lynx. This is an extremely diversified environment; it has also old groves of fir trees, woodland pastures, bush-filled meadows and small forest clearings complete with dead-standing tall pine trees and it is home to many different species. On this track you can hear a Dawn Chorus recorded as the sun rises in early May. Black grouse, Tree pipit, Mistle thrush, Eurasian three-toed woodpecker, Eurasian siskin, Eurasian robin, Dunnock, Bohemian waxwing.
13 EURASIAN BULLFINCH 26.03.2014 at 06.50 Kuopio, Kaislastenlahti. During the nesting season in the summer, the Eurasian Bullfinch quietly spends its time hidden in the forest. This bird likes to nest deep in the forest in a secluded grove in the dense branches of a fir tree. This is the spot where the bullfinch rears its young during the depths of summer, often with a lynx as a neighbour. Towards the end of the summer at the time when they are moulting, the bullfinch will stay hidden in the shelter of the branches. Later in the autumn with the first frosty mornings, the bullfinch’s chicks are ready to fly. Now, the birds travel large distances in search of food. When the winter is over, the male bullfinches start their courtship rituals in March. As the spring sun starts to warm the forest, the male bullfinches circle around the conifer forest singing merrily their characteristic mating calls – short whistling bursts interspersed with sharp sounds which resemble a door being opened with rusty hinges. On this track, you can hear the song of the Eurasian Bullfinch as it greets the gentle sunbeams of a frosty morning in March.
14 ROE DEER 07.05.2008 at 04.15 Latvia, Litene. The Roe Deer and the Wood Hare are the favourite prey animals of the lynx, making up a large part of the wild cat’s diet. The Roe Deer have adapted to live in varied pastoral and forest-type environments. In the gloom of the evening or early morning, these delicate creatures seek out grasses and shoots to eat. In the winter, the lynx stalks the Roe Deer by leaping down from a tree and as the deer sinks into the deep snow in a vain attempt to flee, it is easy prey for the lynx. The alarm cry of the Roe Deer is a low coarse bark-like howl. This track records the sounds of Roe Deer on an early May morning against a background of the dawn chorus. Song thrush, Thrush nightingale, Black grouse.
15 FOX 06.03.2012 at 03.00 Kuopio, Hirvilahti. During the winter, the lynx and the fox hunt the same type of prey – wood hare and grouse. For this reason, a lynx will attack and kill any fox which ventures into its territory. Should the fox not fall prey to the lynx, it may be able to feed on the remains of a deer or a reindeer killed by a lynx. The mating season of the fox occurs in March-April, at about the same time as that of the lynx. At that time, the male fox can travel long distances through the snow in search of a vixen. While creeping along the edge of woods and the banks of the lakes, the fox emits a characteristic throaty bark. During the mating season, the fox makes a variety of sounds, from screeching squeals to blood-curdling howls. On this track, you can hear the typical mating call of a male fox recorded on an icy bank by the side of a small lake.
16 COURTSHIP RITUALS OF THE EURASIAN JAY 24.03.2012 at 14.15 Kuopio, Hirvilahti. The Eurasian Jay prefers to nest in secluded conifer forests, a type of habitat also favoured by the shy and wary lynx. In early spring, when the first rays of sunlight warm the woods, the snow around the base of the trees melts exposing the bare soil. On sunny days, the courtship ceremonies of the Eurasian Jay take place. These rituals have their own splendid soundtrack from the jays. The birds are versatile songsters, they can make burring sounds, high pitched whistles, even crystal clear melodies. The Eurasian Jay can sing in such a way that it is almost impossible to pinpoint its position from listening to the sounds. The jays also hold group courtship rituals where the birds gather in a secluded area to compete in their singing virtuosity. The Eurasian Jay is a very shy bird and any disturbance at all will bring its singing to an abrupt halt and start to cry out raucous warning squawk. On this track you can hear the rarely heard courtship ritual of The Eurasian Jays. The birds have gathered in a clearing surrounded by young fir tree saplings. Although the Eurasian Jay is a talented singer, its song is very quiet and carries only a few dozen meters through this snow-covered wooded landscape. The recording equipment was hidden in the same thicket where the courtship ritual was to be held so that it can be enjoyed in its full splendor. Willow tit, Great tit.
17 IN THE WOODED LANDSCAPE OF THE LYNX 08.05.2012 at 02.52 Kuopio, Kaislastenlahti. Tall pine trees grow on a steep ridge which can be glimpsed through the wall of deep green fir trees in the gloom of the early morning. At the roots of these pine trees there is a huge boulder, behind it the land falls sharply into the forested wilderness. The fir trees stand next to a small stream which is meandering down towards a lake. The lakeside is surrounded by willow bushes and birch trees with horsetail plants growing closer to the water’s edge. The stream is home to frogs which have started to spawn. There is a Song Thrush in full throat sitting on a fir tree next to the babbling stream. This is the time in the early morning when the lynx patrols this part of its territory. The cat jumps on top of the boulder, perhaps it has heard the distant call of another lynx and after a few moments it lets forth its response call. Eurasian bittern, Song thrush, Frog, Red wing, Common cuckoo, Eurasian robin, Black grouse.
Translated by Airi MacDonald and Ewen MacDonald 2014