Various nature recordings by Bernhard Kroeger
While visiting a friend in Seattle this January I decided to see if I could find some trumpeter swans which I heard wintered in the Skagit Valley north of Seattle. A quick computer search yielded this website and all the information I needed to start looking. After much waiting and finger crossing at the
observation area at the end of De Bay Isle Road, east of Mt. Vernon, a pair of swans flew over and their calls, heard by me for the first time, were unmistakable and thrilling. What an aptly named bird. I was not able to record this flyover and decided to explore the area to see if I could find an area where there were swans that were more accessible. Not far from this site Highway 9 crosses the Skagit River, and in a big field just on the north-west side of the river, a large group of trumpeter swans were grazing on fresh greenery. They were too far away to record and the highway is very busy with noisy truck traffic. Groups of swans were flying into the field and bugling, but the highway noise was so loud it was nothing but frustration. I decided to return early the next morning and get as far away from the road as I could and try again.
The next morning I stopped at the De Bay Isle Road observation area and waited for the sun to come up. The temp was in the high twenties and I was glad to see it. After light hunters started to blast away in the distance and not long after trumpeter swans came over flying into the direction of Highway 9. While monitoring the recording I was struck by an odd ratcheting noise that coincided with the swan’s wingbeats, about 3.5-4 beats per second. I’m not sure what causes this noise, but I suspect it has something to do with the movement of their primaries as they beat their wings. This “ratcheting” could be heard from all flying swans that I observed.
The following is a fly-over of two groups of swans. The “ratcheting” noise can be heard, as well as traffic noise and a chattering belted kingfisher at the end.
A fly-over demonstrating the wing sound only. This recording is a bit noisy.
Another fly-over, but more traffic noise.
Along one edge of the field was a tree farm and I used it as cover to try to get closer to the group of swans that were grazing in the field and away from the traffic. As I carefully advanced I came upon a group of 12 swans that were swimming and bathing in a water filled depression that had been invisible. The birds were alert and aware of my presence but not alarmed. This was a good opportunity to record them while at rest.
I continued recording these twelve birds until a portion of them decided to join the group that was grazing further in the field. A train can be heard off and on at the beginning and takeoff is at approximately 3 minutes