Spring Birding and Flowers

I was hoping today’s forecast for light winds held up, but it did not work out that way. Although it was by no means stormy, there was a bit of a swell coming in and enough wind to lift up a chop on top of that. With cool temperatures and rain, it did not turn out to be the best day for a boat ride. Originally hoping for a trip to Low Island, Kitty and I headed out in her skiff, but quickly opted for a second choice of heading towards Port Krestof upon encountering the swell near the airport. On the slow trip through the channel, we saw a late Long-tailed Duck and quite a few gulls (with one Black-legged Kittiwake).

By the time we got out in the vicinity of the Chaicheis, it was clear the breeze had picked up a bit – perhaps as part of a minor rain squall. We considered going to shore at the Chaicheis, but there did not seem like an obvious nice wind-sheltered spot to anchor, and with the generally suboptimal conditions, it seemed better to head back to land.

We did look around a bit for birds, but did not see much (Hudsonian Godwit was still at the turnaround), and stopped by Pioneer Park hoping to find the shoreline shootingstar (Dodecatheon pulchellum) blooming. I had checked it last weekend, but just a few flower buds were showing with no blooms, and I was happy to find a few of them in flower this week. This species seems to limited to on some of the rocky shores around Sitka and I think Pioneer Park might be the only place I’ve noticed it growing along the road system.

Somewhat less showy were the flowers of two different sedges also growing at the upper edge of the shoreline.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Sitka Nature Show #131 – Alan Verde

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The May 14th show featured a conversation with Alan Verde, who is in town as a Scientist in Residence at the Sitka Sound Science Center. We spoke about sea anemones (with a little bit about other cnidarians mixed in), with a focus on Anthopleura elegantissima, a species with some interesting traits that he studies (and hopes to find in the Sitka area).

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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Misty Morning

Sometimes the atmosphere lays heavy on the land and water. Cool, still air, heavy with humidity combines with the low hanging shape-obscuring and color-muting clouds to create an almost dream-like feeling where everything seems far away. Even nearby activity takes on the muffled sound of distance. While these conditions probably do occur at other times of day and year, I tend to associate them mostly with spring mornings like today’s.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Milder than Forecast

Although Sunday is often a day I try to get out a bit farther away from home, the forecast was for rain and wind, so I didn’t plan to do much. As it turned out, the wind seemed pretty light around town (as well as where I could see on the water). Only the lightest of sprinkles fell until the early evening, when a steadier rain started.

A walk around the park this morning did not reveal any new moths or birds.

At Halibut Point Rec there was an uncooperative Spotted Sandpiper, but little else in the way of shorebirds. I think I heard a crossbill, but it landed high in a spruce tree, obscured by the canopy.

Later in the afternoon, I made a little trip to Pioneer Park to check on the shooting stars (Dodecatheon pulchellum). They are fairly common in certain sorts of rocky shoreline habitats in the greater area, but the only place I know where they are easily accessible on the road system is at Pioneer Park. There were some with obvious flower buds, but none were open yet.

I was a little surprised to see a western dock growing among the rocks of the shoreline. It is another one that’s fairly common in the Sitka area at certain locations near the shore, but seems to be relatively scarce along the road system. (I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it at Starrigavan in the estuary, but can’t think of any other places).

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Sitka Nature Show #130 – Chris Sergeant

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(conversation starts about 9 minutes in)

The April 30th show featured a conversation with Chris Sergeant, ecologist with the National Park Service. Based out of Juneau, he works with all three National Parks in Southeast Alaska on long term monitoring projects. We spoke about the monitoring being done on Indian River, as well as other projects Chris is involved in. See the SEAN NPS website for more information, data, and annual reports.

If you missed the talk he gave here in town on Kittlitz Murrelets, he’s made an annotated version of the slide show available.

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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Morning Walk, Afternoon Fire

This warm spring day seemed like a good opportunity to work on burning a pile of rotting wood (much of it pulled out of the dirt in the berm) that has been sitting in my yard for some time. Connor helped pull nails from pieces, while Rowan did much of the moving from the pile to near the fire. I was unsurprised that she found multiple insects, spiders, and a snail. Although she does not seem to seek them out like she did when she was younger, she does still have an eye for those kinds of things.

This morning I picked up some wood chips I plan to use as mulch, then made a quick (for me walk around the park). There continue to be many gulls along the shoreline, though I expect they will move on soon.

The shorebird numbers and diversity are slowly starting to rise. I saw a couple of dowitchers (maybe both species), and a small flock of peeps (including Dunlin, Western and Least Sandpipers).

Despite mostly cloudy conditions throughout the day, the official high climbed to over 60F.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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