I had almost 40 people for a full moon hike this evening. A big group, to be sure, largely family groups, but also couples and singles. There were also many more young children than usual, perhaps because of Labor Day weekend.
One of the things I love about summer and early fall evenings are the sounds -- ground crickets, tree crickets, katydids, owls, tree frogs, etc. And, with digital technology, it's increasingly easy to learn more and share the sounds (and sights) of nature day and night.
I used my iPod nano for the first time, attached to a small portable speaker, to play (the quite different) calls of crickets, katydids, and cicadas, with the backdrop of the real-time nocturnal symphony. It had helped me distinguish between their sounds and songs, so I thought it would be helpful for a group program (as long as the tech part wasn't too distracting).
It worked well, and hopefully encouraged participants to listen more closely on more peaceful night-time excursions. I've been using a simple Birdsong Identiflyer for birds and frogs in the field, which is great. Low tech and effective.
Check out songsofinsects.com for some excellent recordings (and information about more extensive collections. I have all of Lang Elliot's CD and accompanying guides (with Wil Hershberger for insects). They're great, especially with the portability provided by mp3 players.
Check out this great singing insect jukebox from their website.
(double-posted on this blog and Natural Gardening)