Thursday, May 29, 2014

Strange Noises

Cable Mountain along the Observation Point Trail where the route follows Echo Canyon
CORRECTION: We hiked to Observation Point, not Observation Peak as I incorrectly stated below. FYI.

Our first serious hike in Zion National Park--Observation Peak--lived up to its billing. At four miles up and four miles back and 2,000 feet of elevation gain in-between, it gave us plenty of challenge. But it offered even greater panoramas, majestic sandstone, and enough birding to satisfy. We recorded one new feathered friend, that being the Virginia's warbler. Even more special were the desert bighorn sheep that surprised us about 1.5 miles into the hike.

But our most bizarre encounter was with something that sounded like a cross between bleating sheep and an underwater jackhammer. We were sitting near the edge of Echo Canyon, which is a slot about 10 feet deep at this location with several pools in the bottom. We suspected frogs, but the noise sounded unlike any frog we had ever heard. Today, while reading a placard somewhere in the park, we put two and two together: canyon tree frog. Apparently the amphibian thrives in the Southwest, and we were somewhat lucky to hear it since it's usually nocturnal.
Canyon tree frog. Photo from the NPS website.
I recorded of the frogs we heard, but here is a link to a higher-quality recording:

For the record, we also encountered singing frogs on a Capitol Reef hike, while coming down from Navajo Knobs, just before the junction with the Hickman Bridge trail. We never thought to ask a ranger what kind of frogs they might have been. I can say with certainty that they were not canyon tree frogs.

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