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Walter Scott: Early morning walk yields lots of wildlife sounds

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Drakesville, Iowa.

Columnist Walter Scott

When a person is able to be away from the everyday sounds of traffic, airplanes, and people, it is interesting what one can hear. The best time for listening is usually right after dawn and just after sunset. A person may be able to hear both the night animals and the ones that roam in daylight hours.

While I like to sit on the porch and drink coffee early in the morning, my wife has started taking her morning walk very early to avoid the heat. She has been able to hear different sounds unique to that time of day.

Some of the sounds are familiar, while others are not so much. Then there are a few animal noises that are just plain strange.

Her usual walk consists of a trail passing between two patches of dense timber, down to the lake, across the dam and up to the woods on the other side of the lake. Yesterday, she was not far into her walk when she heard a meowing sound coming from the timber just off to her right. She said it sounded just like a kitten.


There are several pictures of bobcats on the trail cameras at the Walter Scott property. (Courtesy of Walter Scott)

I am sure it was, but not a domestic type kitten. A house cat would not live long among the predators in the area. We have several pictures of bobcats on the trail cameras and I am sure this is what she was hearing. She was relieved to clear the woods without seeing either the kitten or its mother.

One morning, with Billie on his leash, she was at the far end of her walk when Billie insisted on investigating the woods.

This is why he is on a leash when he goes for walks. A few minutes in the tall grass or in the woods takes hours to clean the briars and burrs from his soft poodle coat.

He can be quite insistent when he spots something interesting. My wife peered into the darkness of the thick timber but could see nothing that had his attention so riveted.

Finally managing to pull him away to continue the walk, a deer snorted at them from somewhere nearby. The snort served as a warning to other deer in the area about the intruders in the area. Billie could see or smell what my wife could only hear.

Great horned owls have a wide range of vocalizations. When two or three of them start calling back and forth in the early morning or just after dark, their calls range from the humorous to extremely strange.

If a person did not know what was making the sound, it would be a bit disturbing. They hoot and holler for five or 10 minutes and finally shut up and get about the business of hunting.

Another very strange bird call is the great blue heron. A pair of them hunt on the edge of the lake during the day and return to their nest at dark.


During their flight back, and when they first get to their nest, they make a loud gagging sound. It is their call and the best they can do, but it is a strange sound. Other herons must find it attractive as the mate always comes back to the roost when called.

It is pleasant to watch the sun come up and listen to the birds as they begin to sing as dawn breaks. During the day, many sounds can be heard from the nearby wildlife, but most of them are not such strange sounds.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Drakesville, Iowa.
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