[Tweeters] Stillwater Bitterns and Bullfrogs

Scott Ramos lsr at ramoslink.info
Sun Apr 5 20:44:57 PDT 2015

Yesterday morning I spent some time walking the various trails at Stillwater (Snoqualmie Wildlife Area). Heading east along the valley trail, I heard the characteristic ‘onk-a-chonk’ of an American Bittern, seemingly quite close to the trail. Maneuvering for a view, a Bittern call was repeated, but further along the trail. I followed and for several minutes chased the sound without ever seeing a bird. I know that the Bittern call can be ventriloqual but I was close enough to get a good perception of the sound’s origin. Yet, I was never able to see the bird (or birds). It (they) seemed to be in the brush adjacent and below the trail. If it was a single bird making all the sounds I was hearing, it was a master of deception: no movement at all of the vegetation and no ripples at all in the water (save for a muskrat that swam out).

After a while, I gave up trying to view a bird and walked on, only to have another bittern start calling. In the half mile from the parking area to the first bridge to the east, I had at least 6 encounters of this sort. Given the distance and separation of call events, I feel comfortable that these were all different birds. In fact, I think it likely there was double that number. Am I crazy and all of these calls were from a single bird, or could there really have been that many?

On the trail that heads south from the parking area toward the river, I encountered a very wet swale that was full of American Bullfrogs. I saw at least 2 dozen huge frogs, all of which eventually leaped into the water as I approached closer. These are considered an invasive species; King County’s website says:

“… if you catch one, feel free to eat it. That is why they were originally introduced -- for their frog legs. Unfortunately, they do a fine job of eating our native amphibians and even the Western pond turtle.” If anyone is looking for an alternative meal …..

Scott Ramos

Muskrat: https://picasaweb.google.com/104613265151815506340/SnoqualmieRiverValley#6134463235637840034
Bullfrog: https://picasaweb.google.com/104613265151815506340/SnoqualmieRiverValley#6134463136520191154

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