Archive for September 15th, 2011

Things That Go Bump In The Night

note: click on the highlighted links for audio

For the past two weeks my husband has been working in Massachusetts, about a three-hour drive from our house in Maine.  People from my home town wonder if I’m scared to be alone, pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

My first thought is that while I’ve been alone for 2 weeks, some of my women friends have been alone for decades.  So it seems wimpy to complain.

There is no random violent crime where I live in Maine, unlike in my home town, so there is actually less chance of danger here.

However, there are definitely noises, and they can be unsettling unless you know what you’re listening to.  Not just “unsettling”:  I confess, they can sound downright scary.  So last year I made a list of all the wildlife in my area, and then found online recordings of their cries.  Once I knew that it was foxes I was hearing and not someone being murdered, I calmed down, and began keeping count of the great variety of “night music.”

I’ve been sleeping with the windows open because the cooler September temperatures (in the 40s and 50s) are so refreshing.  Because my area is devoid of traffic or people, and due to my particular location, it is very quiet, so whatever sound there is, is amplified.

When a leaf drops to the ground from a tree, I hear it.

Last night, an acorn plummeting onto our metal roof sounded like I was being pelted with a cannon.

Now that the acorns and beechnuts are falling, animals come to eat them.  I know this because on the driveway the next morning there are many husks that couldn’t have been smashed by my car.  Also, the footsteps on the driveway at night are heavy, unlike the usual pitter-patter of frenetic chipmunks and squirrels.  I know that bears rely on beechnuts this time of year, before they go into hibernation.  I have no reason to be outside at night, so I’m not fearful of a bear confrontation.  Because our driveway is hardpacked gravel and it hasn’t rained, they haven’t left tracks. But I know they’re there, because I’ve found bear scat all over my property, and because it’s bear hunting season and I often hear gunshots and baying hunting hounds at dawn and dusk just down the road.

Around 10 p.m., in the distance, a few yaps.  Then, like a chorus, more high pitched screeching, followed by yaps and howls.  Eastern Coyotes!

The coyotes are followed by the barking and screaming of foxes calling to one another.

Sporadically I hear the haunting cry of a loon, a type of duck found on Maine lakes.

Barred owls hoot throughout the night.

A whippoorwhill bird calls out.

And then, at around 11:30 pm,  I think I hear a moose.  It sounds like it’s coming from across the pond.  It’s kind of a low-pitched trumpeted moan.  I hear it every other minute for 15 minutes.  Then, silence.  I do a quick Google search on “moose sounds” and confirm that I heard a cow moose (female) in estrus, calling for a bullmoose (male).  Rutting (mating) season is usually in November, so this was an early surprise.

When I return to my home town all these nocturnal noises will be history, replaced by police and ambulance sirens, house and car alarms, booming music and people shouting.  Now that is scary!