[Tweeters] Tides at Night; Who's calling?

Jon Houghton jon.houghton at hartcrowser.com
Thu Nov 29 17:12:11 PST 2018

During night time intertidal sampling in the winter during the 1970s, both in Puget Sound and Washington, we used to continually hear the somewhat eerie but strangely comforting contact calls of both Western Grebes and Marbled Murrelets. It was always nice to know they were out there! The Sibley phone app has something pretty like what we heard, although I recall it as a single note, repeated irregularly. For scary night bird calls, I doubt you can beat this one: I was walking alone along the upper beach on the south side of Kiket Island (now the Kokutuli Reserve in Skagit Bay, and part of Deception Pass SP). It was a pretty dark night but there was enough light so that I wasn't using a light. I walked under a tree, hanging out horizontally from the high bluff and was highly startled when a Great Blue Heron took off squawking mightily, as only they can squawk, from about 3 feet above my head. I believe I had to clean both the inside and outside of my chest waders after that one! As a side note, at the time, I was involved in baseline studies for a saltwater-cooled nuclear power project proposed for the Island. Fortunately, that project (which would have been nicely visible from the Deception Pass Bridge!) was not built, but several of us got our graduate degrees in the process. The Island is now open for walking/birding with an access on Snee-Oosh Road on south Fidalgo Island. Happy Birding! Jon Houghton, Edmonds
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