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Listening to the Season of Migrating Birds, Mediterranean Trees, and Ocean Habitat in Spain

Photos by Jake Landau

Listening to the season of migrating birds, Mediterranean trees and the Ocean Atlantico in the south of Spain this early November was an extraordinary moment to observe, experience and record as a group. This was the first Rhythm in Nature Birdsong Listening Retreat at UNESCO site Doñana National Park in Almonte Spain and its nearby habitats of Mazagón coast of the Atlantic in Andalucia, Isla Cristina Port, and the Odiel Marshlands.

Co-produced by artist/engineer Jake Landau, I was grateful to be in community with all of these wonderful interdisciplinary artists on the retreat and with our Spanish team Claire, Javier, Fran, David, and Paco at Doñana, Parador, and Isla Cristina.

Flamingos and Wild Horses graze in the marshlands next to the small town of El Rocio. This western farming town, home of the sacred Madonna, Santuario Nuestra Señora, once a year hosts a pilgrimage of 1 million people that pass through the small dirt Road Town to pay respects. The first day we arrived was at the tail end of hurricane winds in Spain and Portugal of up to 40 km an hour. We were greeted with a double rainbow and wind the first day at El Rocio and at Mazagon beach, yet grateful to have it clear up for the rest of the week into the sun.

We found ourselves amidst 300 year old Corked Oak Trees that can shed their outer layers while retaining large amounts of CO2 in their forests. There were Spanish Pines and we were blessed with water streams over rocks that had just come off the mountain from heavy rain. Dead snake skin and shedded wolf spiders, and the familiar calls of the Sardinian Warbler, European Blackbird, European Robin, and House Sparrows moving through the trees. There was a short toed tree creeper and cries of the Eurasian Moorhen.

The continuity that carried us on from the first day through each of the field days was our collectiveness. Our collective listening and collective recording made its way gently through each habitat together, carrying magic together. A collective consciousness on being and existing and learning in nature emerged and was ever present much to our grateful delight which showed in an overflow of love and laughter at all meals and all times. Listening and studying nature through rhythm and sounds is such an amazing force of energy and lightness.

We are excited as we begin to listen to the recordings of the group. We are also excited to announce we’ll be creating a collective sound composition from all 8 artists recordings to release on Habitat Sounds in 2024.

Here are a few highlights in the photos and descriptions below.

For more information on Drum Labs: Rhythm in Nature Course and Community,

Upcoming 2024 April Listening Retreat, and our last Rudimentary Rhythms of Birdsongs Webinar this year Dec 2, 2023 ,

you can read more and also to sign up and enroll , please go to the links below or contact us at

Info and Enrollment for Rudimentary Rhythms of Birdsongs Webinar December 2, 2023

Info and Enrollment for Rhythm In Nature Listening Retreat at Doñana National Park April 2024

Sending love light and good energy your way for a beautiful December month of 2023!


A double rainbow greeting our Rhythm in Nature Retreat, here in El Rocio over the marshland with Flamingos in the water.

On a later and sunny day the flamingos are busy in the marshes eating.

The rain has brought green into the marshes for the wild horses to graze on.

Taking a quick selfie in the town of El Rocio after a morning breakfast together at the cafe.

These amazing Spanish Pines line the roads and paths as we enter off road with our guide and 4 wheel van.

Making our way down the road amidst the Spanish Pines and Corked Oak Trees.

Stopping in our hike at a majestic 300+ Corked Oak Tree

Along the bog in Doñana National Park recording the small birds calls and the atmosphere.

Artist/Drummer/Scientist Simon Burhoe Records in Doñana.

Artist/Community Leader/Musician Amy Reed and Drummer/Composer Jen Yakamovich at a Corked Oak Tree.

Musician/Artist/Engineer and Co-Producer of Drum Labs: Rhythm in Nature Jake Landau listens to a Corked Oak Tree.

Flutist/Improviser/ Poet trē Abalos and Artist/Founder of Drum Labs Rhythm in Nature Susie Ibarra listen to a Corked Oak Tree.

Artist/Maseries Arts Founder Amy Reed listens and records trees and birds in Doñana.

Artist/Drummer/Scientist Simon Burhoe listens to birds, trees and low hanging branches in Doñana.

Rhythms in Nature Birdsong Listening Retreat following our Doñana guide and ornithologist Javier through the forest.

A Spanish red fawn standing in the forest

Spanish buzzard getting ready for flight in Doñana.

Bird watching along the way as we move on field in Doñana.

Spanish buzzard takes flight on field in Doñana.

Spotting this beautiful Barn owl in the brush forest of Doñana.

Rhythm in Nature Artists walking together along the Pines and Corked Oak trees in Doñana.

Artist Amy Reed listening and viewing the wildlife on field in Doñana.

Spanish Red Deer walking along the path.

Artist/ Drummer Jen Yakamovich recording the bird calls and bird songs in the brush.

Rhythm in Nature Artists listening and watching thousands of birds in the rice fields next to Doñana Park.

Sound Artist/ Percussionist Drew Barnet records along the stream at the rice fields.

We witness 8,000 Flamingos take flight into the air and meet thousands of Glossy Ibis in the sky.

Artist/Scientist Simon Burhoe records along the stream in the rice fields.

Rice Fields adjacent to Doñana.

Small Crabs walking along the Odiel Marshlands.

Artists Amy Reed and trē Abalos taking in the Marshland.

Artist trē Abalos recording along the Marshland.

Artist Jen Yakamovich recording along the Marshland.

Artist/Musician Trey Cregan recording and contemplating the Marshland.

Rhythm in Nature Artists getting ready for the beach at Mazagon.

Rhythm in Nature Artists walking down to the beach to record and beach yoga in Mazagón.

Artist Drew Barnet at the waves.

Artist trē Abalos at the shore.

Artist Trey Cregan at the shore.

Artist Drew Barnet recording along the beach.

Sunset at Mazagón.

On the Ocean Atlantico off of Isla Cristina , the second largest port for Spain, we are traveling this morning to record the ocean waves, the water below and above, ocean birds that often don’t bother to come ashore, the ocean under water at different depths, and the abandoned mussel farm on the ocean border of Portugal and Spain. Our boat guide is a fisherman and tatto Artist Paco, who often takes ornithologists offshore to see the birds.

As we leave the marina of Isla Cristina Paco mentions we are moving above Roman Basilica ruins traveling above a sunken city below. The sun is bright and the weather is mild and so beautiful this morning.

The water is both deep and transparent blue and very clear. Light and birds chase the top of waves and the water and we move out into the ocean.

I am grateful for Paco’s thoughtfulness and planning with Jake Landau and I on our recording day off Isla Cristina.

We reach Portugal in the water and at this border we drop our hydrophones into the sea. I couldn’t have imagined to discover what is like a stadium of drummers playing rhythms- these tiny drummers, the abandoned mussel farm, under the sea were massive. I love it.

At another stop we had at first one sea bird which after bringing bread with Paco and I, they came in one after the other the Mediterranean Gulls along with lone Blacked Winged Stilts and Little Tern and a few large birds in the distance. Sounds were fantastic from whirring and bird calls, popping like sticky rice on the ocean surface and wings in the wind navigating landing.

Grateful for the collective listening and collective recording with this beautiful crew of artists.

Ocean Atlantico.

Ocean Atlantico and recording an abandoned mussel farm.

Mediterranean SeaGulls fly in.

Seabirds take landing.

Artist Trey Cregan listens and records the Ocean Atlantico.

Artist and Co-Producer of Drum Labs: Rhythm in Nature Jake Landau records the Ocean Atlantico in the amazing sun.

Rhythm In Nature Artist crew

Getting ready to leave Isla Cristina Port.

Listening Below

The water is incredibly blue.

Listening to the abandoned mussel farm and water current below.

Rhythm in Nature Artists having lunch in charming Isla Cristina after a beautiful morning on the ocean.

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