Thursday, June 12, 2014

Residents Near Yesler Swamp Report Mysterious Constant Pinging Sound

Several residents living near Yesler Swamp and Surber Drive have reported a constant pinging sound for the last few weeks.

One neighbor wrote:
Subject: Strange pinging sound down by the "Swamp" off Surber Drive 
We live on Surber Drive NE. Recently in the last several weeks there has begun a continuous, loud “pinging” sound in the afternoons that lasts well into the evenings. 
The sound seems to originate from the “Yesler Swamp” or the nearby Horticulture property to the West of the Swamp.
It is similar to the sound of plastic mallets striking a solid plastic bar.  Eight or so pings then a pause followed by another stanza of pings. They are truly man made sounds and could be construed as a bird deterrent device. 
Very annoying to hear as a background to what would ordinarily be a quiet neighborhood sound with rustling trees and bird song. 
Does anyone know what the origin of this sound nuisance to be?
And here is another email received:
We are hearing a constant high pitched sound all day that is extremely annoying.  
If it is something at Yesler Swamp why haven't the Friends of Yesler Swamp notified those living around that area about the work going on - how long it will last and the hours? 
I don't see anything on their website. Perhaps if you put this on the Blog they will tell us something. We appreciate their efforts with restoring the swamp and would appreciate information about this project.
We contacted Friends of Yesler Swamp, and the UW Restoration Team, known as the   Community Engagement Committee and received brief responses from Jean Colley, Fred Hoffer and Gerald Gettell saying:
It's the sound of pin piles being driven into the ground for the boardwalk construction in Yesler Swamp. It's not going to go on for too long.  
The boardwalk pin pipe driving is very intermittent and should last not more than a few minutes each time the pins are driven.  The crew leaves the side around 3:30 PM.  Any noise beyond that time is not coming from this activity.
We followed up with the group again requesting additional information regarding how long the project will take, and after several days Jean Colley wrote: 
We discussed this in our board meeting and did not wish to respond  without more thought but your persistence pushes me to respond with less than the most thoughtful response.  
Please take it with a grain of salt as this resource may seem like a thorn now but will be a rose later. The conservation corp is training a new set of recruits and I expect the pinging will start again next week. It will continue until the pin piles for the boardwalk in Yesler Swamp are all in place.
This phase will take an additional 2 weeks. They work during the weekday pounding the pins into the cement piles. The pin piles support the boardwalk so it will not sink in the boggy soil and when this phase is completed the neighbors will be able to walk to the edge of the lagoon which until now has never been accessible in the summer due to high water.  
The boaters and birders should not fear however as the trail is not visible from the water. We will start another phase of pinging once this phase is completed and continue intermittent pinging until our funds are depleted.  
We currently do not have enough money to complete the trail but are applying for more local grants. One of us at your request certainly can tell you when to expect the next phase to start later this summer. I hope this helps.
And Fred Hoffer , who is involved with the project, wrote:
I am also a neighbor who lives directly across the street on Surber and the pinging is music to my ears, a 7 year dream come true, a sound and vision I wish my late wife and late neighbor could hear and see. 
And last night, the Friends of Yesler Swamp posted this:
What's that "pinging" in Yesler Swamp? 
That's the sound of Washington Conservation Corps building the Yesler Swamp trail! 
Thanks to the generosity of our community, construction of the boardwalk is finally under way. The trail is supported by special pin piles to protect the fragile shoreline environment. The work crew is now beginning to place the pin piles and construct the ADA-accessible cedar boardwalk. 

Portions of the boardwalk loop will be finished in the next few months and we expect to have the entire project completed in 2015. Then, the  community -- young and old -- will be able to safely enjoy the water, the birds, the beavers, and the amazing restoration taking place in beautiful Yesler Swamp!

And this morning we received an email from one of the neighbors who first reported the pinging who wrote:

Well neighbors and friends of Yesler Swamp
We are the same folks who reported the “pinging” and we ventured onto the trails down in the swamp last Saturday.  
We soon encountered this “pinging” although intermittently.  We were ready with the smart phone video and began recording. At first it was just a nice scene in the woods.  Soon the pings began and we caught them in the movie. 
We returned home and listened to our movie soundtrack several times and agreed it was the infamous ping, and it seemed more like it was in the nature of things (hear this Connie). 
My wife excitedly took the recording up to the Audubon headquarters on 35th NE on Monday and with great discovery learned it was the mating call of the “Virginia Rail”!

We rushed home and Googled many sites with this unique bird song and totally agreed we had solved this mystery. The mating period seemed to have been successful as our little friend likely scored and has been much quieter since last weekend. There is a good picture of it in “The birds of Puget Sound” paperback. Guess where that’s available!
It was truly a fun event given the challenge to solve the sound, the swamp investigation, the presentation of the evidence and finally the verdict!
We also saw the “work in progress” on the boardwalk and must agree it’s a very well designed and constructed asset. 
It was enjoyable to be deep in the woods, hear nature, and be only a few hundred feet from home.  Bravo to the friends of Yesler Swamp. 



(photo by Jean Colley) 






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