Last year, this same week, incidentally, I commented on a weblog post about spring peepers. I’ve been thinking about spring peepers lately, and mentioned to Dean that I’d like to find some singing some evening.
Dean thought about it and then said he knew of a pond we could visit and maybe hear some peepers. I almost said no, but knew that I’d regret it if I just spend the night longing to hear peepers and searching the Internet for their sounds. Besides, it was due to get cold again and this was a perfect evening to walk in the woods.
We got to the park at dusk, but because there was a huge party going on and we didn’t see any parking spots left we nearly turned around and went home. Luckily Dean spotted a place to park. After securing the parking space we walked into the park, along a creek. I saw skunk cabbage, which I’d just read, shares the same habitat as spring peepers, so my hopes of hearing spring peepers began to rise. It was still too light to hear any, I concluded, but darkness was on its way.
A few cars passed us, probably Boy Scout leaders heading to the nearby campgrounds. Another couple, walking their dog, passed us. We nodded hellos and continued walking.
As we rounded a corner onto a narrow path, Dean pointed to a large bird that had just landed on a branch in a tree. I thought it was a heron and began looking for a roost. Dean wondered if it was, perhaps, an owl. We got closer and saw that it was, indeed, an owl. He hoo hoo hooed at us, posed for a photo and flew off across the creek.
After our owl encounter I looked back at the ground and realized we were now next to a pond. We walked a bit further and I heard the first peeper call. Then another answered. They got louder so we sat near the pond on a rotting log to hear them for a few minutes.
We then walked further along the pond and creek. The sounds of the peepers died down as we left the pond area. We walked back after hiking to the end of the trail and by this time it was much darker; the peepers were louder. We paused again to hear them before we headed home.
As we walked past the place we’d originally seen the owl, I looked up and saw it again, staring down at us as if were were intruders. He then hooed at us again. Dean called back and the owl called. This went back and forth for a while.
I vaguely wondered if there were any woodcocks in the area and suddenly heard an animal sound I’d never heard before, it was in the distance, but loud enough to be heard over the call of the peepers and hoo hoo hooing of the owl. It sounded kind of like a cardinal, but I was surprised to hear cardinals singing so late in the evening. When got home I listened to some bird calls, including the woodcock. I think I might have heard the woodcock’s “whistle dance“, but I cannot be sure. Although, earlier, I heard what I thought was the sound of a chipmunk chirping, but didn’t see any chipmunks.
Who knows? I guess I’ll have to go back.