patricklaurie's picture

Unidentifiable sound

Observed: 10th April 2011 By: patricklauriepatricklaurie’s reputation in Birdspatricklaurie’s reputation in Birds

Walking through wet upland pasture and heathland (sample photograph attached), I heard a number of snipe and curlew drumming and calling just on the twilight before darkness. All of a sudden, there was a completely unexpected sound, and I would love to hear any suggestions as to what it could have been.
The first time I heard it, I thought that a small crow or jackdaw was being killed, but it emerged that it was a deliberate call from a bird moving very quickly around in the darkness, quite low and in a wide circuit.
The sound started with a short and very quiet hiss, being followed by a quick series of loud and grating squeals which went on for three or four seconds, like a cross between the movement of a rusty pulley and the sound of quickly pumping up a bicycle tyre with one of those old portable pumps. It sounded violent to begin with, but looking back, it was more like a display call or something connected to mating.
The call was repeated every three or four minutes from a moving source at various spots across the area, but never further than a couple of hundred yards. Snipe carried on drumming regardless.
We have a variety of waders on the property, and I am very familiar with the calls of curlew, lapwing, snipe, woodcock etc., but this was something I have never heard before, and find it hard to describe.
Any suggestions are very welcome.

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) interacts


patricklaurie's picture

I don't think it was a

I don't think it was a lapwing - it was rather more frantic and jarring than those calls, and the sound was compacted into very short bursts of jagged multiple syllables. But judging by that recording, it was a bird of a similar size.

itsmeal's picture

sound at night

I have never seen or heard one ,but could it have been a corncrake they are not common but apparrently call at night in low undergrowth and sound like a "football rattle"

Alan Edwards

Syrphus's picture

It does not fit Corncrake,

It does not fit Corncrake, which is a repeated monotonous 'crex crex ... crex crex ...' (they love their Latin name) for minutes at a time from the same point on the ground.

The other thing that occurred to me is Water Rail, but that squeals and makes other weird noises from the ground, so that is not in the frame either.



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