[Tweeters] Ducks don't Quack, Gulls don't Cry

jeff gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Fri Sep 27 19:34:54 PDT 2013

Working on a boat at the Edmonds Marina has been interesting this past few days. I saw and heard some interesting things.

Yesterday, and a few days before, my boat project was parked in the haul- out parking lot just to the west of the Edmonds Marsh. I'd been hearing a prominent beeping coming from the pond on the south side of the marsh. Since the boat was on blocks, and had a tall fly bridge, I was able to get a good look at all the birds back there.

The "beeping" was calling Gadwalls. Don't sound like much of a quack; a bit I guess,maybe like a Mallard (a duck that really does quack) that had inhaled Helium. (I got that idea because the boat is my Dentist's, and dentist's use helium, though I've never tried it myself. Helium, being lighter than air, can have an amusing effect on ones vocal chords - gives one sort of a high pitched cartoon voice. I heard it once at a party when the balloon man was hitting the gas).

Moving right along, there were also some American Widgeons back there, which of course have their nice whistle, not a quack. A half dozen Hooded Mergansers, and a Pied-billed Grebe back there too.

Today the boat was on the water again, and I washed it in dark and windy conditions, right next to the marina jetty. Lots of Heermans Gulls on the jetty. Heermans have sort of a different gull call, at least here, away from there breeding grounds. If one were to listen to a soundtrack with Heermans Gulls on it, It might not really evoke the feeling of the seashore that would automatically come to you with recordings of most of the other white-headed gulls, with their classic seashore cry's.

Frogs don't 'ribit' either. Except our native Pacific Chorus Frog does. The excellent natural history writer David Rains Wallace , wrote a great essay about nature sounds on TV and movie soundtracks.(I can't remember the book it was in, if anyone does I'd like to know the title). Being Hollywood and California-centric, many shows and movies are filmed on the west coast habitat, thereby featuring our little froggy native in the background with it's mostly 'ribit' call. Anyway, because of this, folks raised on this media pabulum tend to think all frogs sound this way, which of course they don't. Think bullfrog. When I was down in Texas last May, I kept hearing an insect I was trying to figure out. One day I was with a local fellow asked him what kind of bug it was. "That's no bug" he said, "that's a frog!". And indeed it was - I checked out recordings online- a Cricket Frog. A good name.

Who hasn't been chagrined at hearing every hollywood film raptor sounding like a Red-tailed Hawk. Night insects calling loudly on a movie set in Seattle? I think not!

Duck's quack, Gulls cry, frogs ribit. But not all of 'em.

Jeff Gibson
just sayin', in
Everett Wa

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