[Tweeters] Mystery Sound of the Week!

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sat Jan 7 17:23:29 PST 2017

I don't know about you, but one of the things that I find uplifting in life is bit of mystery. And thats a good thing for me, since I know I'll never run out of the stuff. Mystery everywhere.

Working out along the shores of Oak Bay on Thursday it was cold but calm - calm enough to hear some birds anyhoo. As I worked on a gnarly blackberry patch perched on a slope above the beach, I heard a strange bird sound. "What's that!" I wondered, and grabbed my nearby binocs and tiptoed across the frozen grass over to a open view down to the water.

When I first heard the mystery sound, it sounded maybe like distant geese of some sort, but as I looked I heard it much louder and nearby - and then I spotted the source: two (a pair) of Horned Grebes right near the beach below me. Horned Grebes? I'd never heard a Horned Grebe call before, so was a bit uncertain I was hearing correctly, but heard it again, and yep the sound was coming out of the grebe(s). No other birds around.

While I personal dislike using "playback" in the field, I'm sure not above checking the ol' computer back at the Two Room Ranch to confirm bird sounds. And, yes the Horned Grebe fit exactly what I heard. Sort of. The outstanding quality of the Horned Grebe calls ,in recordings I listened to, feature a loud trilling underlain by a "throaty rattle", which does sound a bit goose-like to me. What I was hearing was only the underlying sounds which were fairly loud on their own. Which was sort of mysterious in itself. Maybe the grebe's throat was partially froze up. I don't know.

Oh sure, mystery is great, but it's nice to get thrown a bone once in awhile just to keep your interest going.

For more mystery in your life you could listen to KPTZ Radio Port Townsend. You don't have to be a local yokel, you can stream it on KPTZ.org. Anyhoo, they have podcasts of their weekly show "Nature Now" that you can listen to, which features local nature sightings, activities, and excellent talks on various things ( like Fishers, Spotted Owls, Bats, ect,) in the Olympics, and many more nature topics. It's a great show.

The Nature Now shows begin and end with a "Mystery Call of the Week!", many of which are pretty darn mysterious to me. Too bad I didn't get a recording of that weird Horned Grebe, it would've been a real stumper.

Jeff Gibson

in mysterious

Port Townsend Wa

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