Mystery Caller

November 5, 2010

Due to recent heavy rains, Kat and I spent a couple of days camped out under a grove of Stone Pine trees a day's pedal away from Lisbon.

Stone Pines (Pinus pinea) are majestic trees. They look like giant umbrellas and give any campsite a magical ambiance (even when dripping with rain). They are native to Portugal and man has been enjoying the pine nuts they produce since prehistoric times.

Between the waves of heavy showers and winds, we'd get out and walk beneath the canopy of these giants.

Each night, right at sunset, we heard birds calling high up in the pines. I assume they were owls. But I don't know. I did record one call though.

Mystery Bird Call

Any ornithologists out there? Can you identify this bird by its call?

Two touring cyclists in Portugal would appreciate your input.

Photos and audio by Willie Weir

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His books, Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will inspire you to hit the road, and might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at


Willie Weir November 6, 2010, 3:48 PM

Thank Andrea! I listened to some of the calls on the owl page and I think you have identified our bird. Perhaps you should celebrate with some tawny port.

Andrea November 6, 2010, 12:54 AM

I think it's the Eurasian Tawny Owl - Strix aluco

It was fun trying to find it!

Andrea in Portland

Snakebite November 5, 2010, 8:21 PM

That has got to be the European Snipe ( .

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