Aftenoon Walk

It has been a while since I went for a wander, so I decided to take advantage of a nice afternoon and go look for some raven tracks in the snow on the Sheldon Jackson campus (Connor told me he had seen some) and then along the waterfront in case I might find the Dusky Thrush.

As the the photos attest, I did find some raven tracks in the snow that had fallen overnight, but no luck on the thrush.

Walking along Etolin Street I stopped short upon hearing a Hermit Thrush singing. Listening more carefully, a follow up song revealed to my ears that I had actually heard a starling doing a pretty good imitation. I wanted to record it, but was unsurprised to find the batteries on the small recorder I carry had died. It’s been several month since I pulled it out to record. Previously I have heard starlings imitating Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Golden-crowned Sparrow, and bottle-rocket sounds (like they shoot at the airport), but this was the first time I heard a Hermit Thrush. Shortly before on Park Street I also heard a staring imitating a junco for the first time.

I walked home and was struck by the contrast of Baranof School playground with alpenglow on the snow-covered Sisters as a backdrop. I don’t find the playground and surround area very aesthetically compelling as a foreground, but the Sister’s looked nice.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Sitka Nature Show #151 – Jacob Metzger


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The February 18th show featured a conversation with Jacob Metzger, a graduate student studying marine biology through the College of Fisheries at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He has been involved in a study looking at the ecology and comparison of sea urchin barrens and kelp forest in the Aleutian Islands that have been influenced by the decline sea otters in the that region.

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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Rain Returns

It kind of snuck up on me, but January and February (so far) have been quite dry. After the first week of the year, there have been only two days (in January) that had more than 0.1 inches of rain.

I suspect part of the reason I only started thinking about how dry it had been over the past few days was the lack of completely dry days. Only one day in January showed 0.00 inches (most showed at least a trace). Three of the four days before yesterday measured 0.00 inches. Despite small amounts, my mind was still registering precipitation as occurring until this last stretch.

Overall, January’s total precipitation was under five inches (average over 8). Until yesteday, February had only a trace of precipitation through nearly two weeks, but now is getting close to two inches.

The mountains showed the lack of precipitation – earlier in the season when we had rain, it was quite warm, so precipitation fell as rain even at higher elevations. Though temperatures have been cooler since, there has been no precipitation since.

It was nice to get up this morning and see a blanket of white covering the mountains down to around 1000 feet or lower.

Most of the rain occurred overnight, and by midday, the clouds had started to break up and we saw some sun.

I’ve not been getting out much lately. Work has kept me occupied, but I’ve also been spending a fair amount of time systematically going through old photos and posting them to iNaturalist (when warranted).

The oldest observations I added were a few from film in summer 1998. In 1999 I got my first digital camera, and didn’t look back. I’m getting close to finished with 2008, so still have many photos to go from the past decade. It’s been enjoyable to be reminded of past adventures, and to see how my total (documented) species count increased each year.

Yesterday I picked plants I was adopting from Marge Ward (who is moving to the Pioneer Home). I decided to drive out the road and was interested to see an eagle working on eating what appeared to be a juvenile swan in the estuary.

Early in the winter there were as many as 29 swans reported out there, but unlike other years, it seems they aren’t all spending the winter. There has been a group of up to 8 swans at Totem Park in recent weeks, and I wonder if they had previously been out at Starrigavan.

I’ve been looking for the Dusky Thrush (though not with any real effort) from time to time over the past couple of weeks, but hadn’t seen it. I did hear from Simon H. that he found it in front of the Centennial Building with a couple of starlings, so good to know that it’s still around.

My iNaturalist Observations for Yesterday

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Sitka Nature Show #148 – Pat Druckenmiller (encore)


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The December 31st show featured an encore conversation with Pat Druckenmiller, curator of Earth Sciences at the Museum of the North and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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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Sitka Nature Show #147 – Jen Cedarleaf and Victoria Vosburg


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The December 24th show featured a conversation with Jen Cedarleaf and Victoria Vosburg. We spoke about the upcoming Christmas bird count and some of the birds that have been around this fall and early winter.

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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Sitka Nature Show #146 – Seri Robinson


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The December 10th show featured a conversation with Dr. Seri Robinson, expert on spalted wood. She was in town to give a talk as part of the natural history seminar series. You can learn more about spalted wood at her Northern Spalting website.

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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