Sitka Nature Show #175 – Nicole Koeltzow

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The January 6th show featured a conversation with Nicole Koeltzow, who was in town to see the Rustic Bunting as part of her 2018 ABA big year. Nicole’s Facebook page for her big year.

If you have questions or observations you want to share, please feel free to leave a comment here or on the page I’ve set up for that purpose.

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New Year Birds

Clear conditions persisted overnight into today, resulting in a very frosty morning.

I took some time today to go look for more of the unusual birds that have stuck around into the new year.

I arrived at the location the Rustic Bunting has been frequenting, and was a little surprised to see it moments after I arrived. Unfortunately, I was not really ready for it, and during the time it took me to get my binoculars and camera out, it disappeared.

I ended up waiting for most of an hour before it returned. I passed the time in part by photographing other species visiting the feeders (more photos of those can be seen with the iNaturalist observations linked below).

The Rustic Bunting seems to be significantly more wary than most of the other birds, taking it’s time, stopping to watch and wait multiple times before finally dropping down to the ground where food was (but even then, it stayed behind the barriers in a more protected spot on the ground, rather than feeding directly from the feeders where there was more abundant food). When it had appeared shortly after my arrival, I suspect my rummaging around actually prompted it to leave again.

From there I went to Swan Lake, where only a small opening remained near the peninsula. With freezing temperatures forecast to continue into next week, there is a good chance the coots won’t be around much longer.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Trumpeters on Swan Lake

Skies cleared more overnight, leading to a frosty cool morning with some patchy fog that dissipated further as the day went on.

I had errands to run this afternoon, so while I was out made a quick stop to see if the Rustic Bunting might be easy to see (it wasn’t), then went by Swan Lake to see about the coots. I think they are still around, but did not see them during my brief stop.

A large family of swans was at the lake, with two adults and 5 juvenile birds. It made me wonder if all the juveniles were hatched out together, or if one (or more) was adopted later.

The new year provides a somewhat arbitrary, but still convenient way to let go of the backlog of photos and blog posts I’ve been intending to work on and ‘start over’ fresh (though I still intend to go back and post the photos and at least short blog posts to go with them). For some technical and organizational reasons, I needed to take care of a few blogs from the past couple of months before posting anything from this year. Over the past few days I’ve been working on those (they are written, but remain as drafts for the moment), and today finally finished them. Based on the number of posts showing up on ‘this day in blog history’ so far this year, it looks like I’ve often entered the new year with some energy for blogging, but that fades as day length increases, I spend more time outside, and photos begin to pile up.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Swamp Sparrow

With brighter conditions today, I made an effort to get out and look for the Swamp Sparrow that had been found along Price Street during the Christmas Bird Count which Connor had also seen earlier in the day.

I brought Rowan along, and we didn’t have any trouble finding the sparrow foraging in some vegetation next to the ditch along the road. While we were there, a Yellow-rumped Warbler and at least a couple of Song Sparrows also made an appearance.

I made a quick check along Eagle Way to see if the Palm Warbler seen during the count last Saturday might be around, but I did not find it.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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First Day Sunset

With heavy clouds, bringing dim light and rain, the first day of 2019 did not inspire me to get outside, and I spent a good chunk of the day working on things inside.

Among other things, I finished up getting all of my relevant 2018 photos into iNaturalist observations. I ended 2018 with 2770 observations and 1080 species (though this latter number will change as identifications are added later). This is my second most species ever (after last year), and possibly my highest count of iNaturalist observations (depending on how many photos I still have left to add from 2017).

This afternoon Connor mentioned there was some color in the sunset, and sure enough, a well placed gap in the clouds allowed the setting sun to give some welcome color to the skies in the fading light.

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December Snow

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been feeling quite busy – two weeks ago, I was preparing to give a talk (on the 13th) for the natural history seminar series, and last week I had quite a bit of work to do, plus was recovering from a fast, and needed to get ready for family to arrive for the holidays.

I felt like the talk went reasonably well (though wish I had at least made an audio recording of myself for review). I am thinking about doing a voice over slideshow video to post, but time will tell whether I manage to do that.

There has been some different weather with several storms moving through, and some pretty high winds (enough to knock down a few trees), then last week we got a bit of snow, the first of the year.

With the fresh snow falling, both at night and during the day, as well as occasional spots of sun, I was feeling a little bummed that I had too much going on to really take some time to wander around and take pictures. By Saturday the weather had warmed to the upper 30s with cold rain falling. This pattern has continued, and the snow at sea level is slowly melting.

Looking back at photos, I can see that I did get out a bit more than it has felt like (and eventually I’ll have blog posts sharing a bit about that). I guess I really just missed the fresh snow and full moon.

The picture I have with this post was taken through my window while I was on a call for work last Thursday – I’m puzzled by how the snow can slide off in that rope-like way without falling apart.

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