Solar Eclipse

For a while it appeared that we would not see much during today’s partial solar eclipse. However, about halfway through the event around the maximum extent of the moon’s coverage of the sun, the clouds started breaking up and I was able to grab some photos. Of course even when partially blocked, the sun is still very bright, so in order to keep the sun from blowing things out to the point where it was not possible to see the eclipse, the surrounding sky was had to be drastically under exposed, leading to these low key images that almost look like they were taken at night rather than near midday. In some of the photos, a corona is visible due to the light refracted through small water droplets making up the clouds.

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Rusty Blackbird

Yesterday I received a call from Stan about a different looking bird that had visited his driveway on Lakeview Drive late that morning (before being chased off by Steller’s Jays) as well as around the same time the day before. He thought it might be a Rusty Blackbird, but wasn’t absolutely sure. Rusty Blackbirds are less than annually reported in Sitka (though I suspect small numbers move through in most years without being reported), and I had only seen them twice before. I walked around Lakeview Drive on my way to the middle school, and heard a Steller’s Jay but did not see the Rusty Blackbird.

On my way back from the middle school I once again walked around the loop and did not see the blackbird before I saw Stan. While we were visiting (talking about the birds of the neighborhood as well as a squirrel that he’s trying to keep out of his attic and crawlspace), the blackbird showed up just where he had seen it before.

I was able to get some photos of the Rusty Blackbird as it worked its way down along the side of the road. It stayed mostly on the pavement or in the gravel while I watched, and in a couple of pictures it’s possible to see it has something in its mouth. My best guess at this time is that it was finding seeds, probably from of the abundant crop of spruce cones that have started seeds.

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Fall Birding

Today’s highlight was seeing a Rusty Blackbird after getting a report that it had been around a local neighborhood yesterday and today. It’s only the third one I’ve seen here (that I can recall), and the first since November 2008.

There are still lots of Ring-necked Ducks on Swan Lake, but I didn’t see the Canvasback in a couple of brief looks. I did see a warbler that looked different to me. I just got a brief look and no photo, but it seemed a bit more yellow than Orange-crowned Warblers, darker than Wilson’s or Yellow Warblers, and it had a brighter line through or possibly above its eye without a white eye ring. Looking through the book, a Tennessee Warbler seemed plausible but I don’t really know. Along Degroff street I heard the croaking of an Anna’s Hummingbird and was able to see it silhouetted against the bright clouds up in a tree.

This morning Rowan and I took a look around Alice Island and near the airport. A snipe or two, plus a handful of sparrows were the bulk of what we observed. It seemed like the flush of song birds earlier in the week (that I had received a couple of different reports about) had mostly moved on.

Since I’ve not been keeping up with blogging lately, I should probably mention a couple of others things that I might not remember to say if/when I back date photojournal posts for some of the days I’ve missed.

It seems like the weather lately has been mostly better than forecast (today was no exception, with mostly sunny skies through much of the afternoon). Or perhaps it’s raining in the forecast area as much as expected, but for some reason town itself has seen less of it. In part it seems like the heaviest of the rain has remained further south. I did hear they are calling for snow somewhere in the KCAW listening area, but I didn’t catch where. It’s gotten cooler here a bit (highs around 50 or below), but not down to snow temperatures.

Within the past few days (maybe Sunday afternoon), I looked outside while it was raining and thought I was seeing snow mixed in. When the temperature is near freezing occasional flakes will drift down among the faster falling drops. In this case I did not think it was anywhere near cold enough, but sometimes strange things happen. After taking a closer look, I realized what I was seeing were the seeds of spruce cones spinning down with their single wing. I wondered if maybe a flock of Pine Siskins, which seem to have returned in significant numbers, may have been feeding in the trees outside my house and knocked some loose without eating them.

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Sunny Fall Day

Although I had quite a bit going on with a planning call for a new call series (that starts tomorrow), I took a little extra time to walk to language class. It was a sunny warm day, but given that it’s already well into October, I was a little surprised to see some flower flies active on/around a couple of blooming dandelions below the block house. They look like an Eristalis sp, but I’m not sure which one.

I spent a few minutes watching for the Northern Mockingbird, but it didn’t make an appearance while I watched.

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New Snow on Mountains

Snow levels dropped again a bit. I always enjoy the way the first snows of fall bring out the textures in the cliffs and steep slopes of the mountain peaks. As the season progresses and snow gets deeper, smoothing out the roughness, the mountains are no less striking, but today I took a moment appreciate the the views offered by this brief shoulder season.

I got a report today from Matt D. of sand lance spawning on the small sand patch in front of his place on Galankin Island. He said it was the second year in a row he has seen it, after never having seen it before last year.

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Underground Water Flow

This entry is part of 3 in the series Starrigavan Slide

Rowan provides some scale as I tried to document the water coming out of the slope cut by the washout of the landslide. It’s a little harder to see the flowing water in the lower photo, but there were several places all along this cut bank where water was streaming out of the rocks/gravel. My guess is that prior to the cutting of this bank by the slide washout, the water just flowed down underground to a point where it reached the stream, perhaps never even visible separately. It’s interesting to think about just how much water is flowing down the mountainsides around here during rainy weather. I also wonder how long it takes for this water to dry up when there hasn’t been rain (and the higher elevation snow above has melted). It’s probably this water that helps get landslides started.

Questions:

  • Where are other places that it’s clear water is moving underground?
  • How much rock/sediment does the water moving underground like this transport?
  • How much slower does the water moving through the ground go as compared to water that is flowing above ground along a channel or watercourse of some sort?
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