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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View from Totem Park

The mixed weather continued today with brief sunny breaks punctuating otherwise mostly cloudy skies with occasional showers. On a walk to the park this morning, sunlight shining down through the clouds made for some dramatic lighting on the hills and mountains on the far side of Eastern Channel.

A Sanderling, presumably the same one Connor saw last week, was hanging out with the Black Turnstones at the lower part of the estuary.

There seem to be quite a few Northern Flickers around this fall. It’s always a little hard to be sure if it’s a lot more than usual for the season (since it’s easy to end up comparing with general impression that include the rest of the year when they aren’t around that much), but it certainly seems like it.

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Remains of Sea Star?

I’ve been hearing about sea star wasting disease for a year or two, mostly in the context of it devastating some populations along the west coast of Washington, Oregon, and California. However, there has been on-going monitoring for it here. Until the past couple of weeks, there appeared to be only a low level of wasting-like symptoms observed around Sitka sound. However, in the past couple of weeks it seems as though the disease has started hitting hard in at least some areas near town. I took a look at Sealing Cove during a (not very low) tide this past week to see if I could see any signs there.

From one of the ramps I saw what at first I thought might be a bare rock, but after a moment or two realized that it didn’t really make sense for there to be bare rocks there, and not only that but there seemed to be a bit of a purplish cast to them. They seemed to be the size of sunflower stars (Pycnopodia helianthoides), and I concluded that I was probably seeing the remains of a couple that had died from the wasting disease (which has apparently been found to strike this species first).

The Sitka Sound Science Center has been helping with the effort to monitor and on their weblog you can find more information on sea star wasting around Sitka as well as information about who to contact if you observe it happening.

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Stormy Weather

Yesterday was a very pleasant one following Friday’s storminess. Today it was back to gales (50+kt winds out at the buoy). Today’s weather actually seemed pretty dramatic at times, with strong winds and downpours broken up by dramatic clouds framing patches of blue sky, sometimes oriented such that the sun would shine through and warm the ground.

After a walk along part of Mosquito Cove this morning (Starrigavan Creek did not appear to be muddy today), I took a few minutes to check out the birds at the Path of Hope before ultimate frisbee. There were quite a few juncos around, also several Song Sparrows and a Golden-crowned Sparrow or two. While playing ultimate, I saw a Peregrine Falcon fly over.

Most of our game was played between squalls, but we got caught in a downpour shortly before wrapping up a little before two. Fortunately it was short lived, and I was able to walk home without getting soaked. On a brief stop at Swan Lake, I didn’t notice anything other than the normal assortment of Mallards. If the scaup I saw yesterday evening was still around, I did not notice it.

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