Today I heard an odd song coming from the trees and bushes on the slope behind the fire station. It started out like an Orange-crowned Warbler, but quickly veered off into unfamiliar (to me) territory. I was able to get recordings of it, but was never able to get more the briefest of glimpses of a bird moving through the bushes. Given where and how it seemed to be moving, I’m reasonably confident it was a warbler of some sort, what I don’t know is whether it’s a common warbler with an unusual song, or an a-typical warbler with its normal song that I just don’t recognize.
(Recording notes: I removed a lot of lower frequency sounds to minimize the sound of the traffic that was going by.)
I was sent a short clip of a strange sounding bird that had been recorded along Thimbleberry Lake trail. I was told the bird had been calling in the same area for a few weeks. It was a faint recording, but what I heard sounded sound-wise very much like a Varied Thrush, but the rhythm was not at all typical.
I went up that way today with a general idea of the area the bird had been heard. While sitting on the side of a small bridge under the shelter of a large hemlock not far from where the trail starts to leave the Thimbleberry Lake shoreline, I heard the bird calling and was able to get some recordings of it.
The bird was calling from the forest on the Verstovia (uphill) side of the trail. It did not sound too far away, but I was not able to get sight of it. The sound quality still makes me think Varied Thrush, but I’ve not ever heard one sing like this before. In the recordings I’ve posted here, I trimmed some of the longer quiet spaces between the calls (which were originally between 11 and 26 seconds, though most typically 15-20 seconds). Although in these clips the bird calls are in two or three note patterns, I was told that sometimes there were also four notes.
I am wondering if anyone else has heard something like this before – is it a Varied Thrush that is singing a different song for some reason? Or is there another species out there not typically found around Sitka that sounds similar to a Varied Thrush in sound quality but has this different song?
Thanks to Linda B. for letting me know about this bird.
I’ve been trying to keep track of moths again this year. So far I’ve not seen many that I don’t recognize already from the work I did on it last year. The moth pictured here I believe is a Small Engrailed (Ectropis crepuscularia), though I don’t think I ever got that completely confirmed last year. In any case I saw several of them then, and expect to again this year as well.
This year down at the park I’ve noticed a bunch of mussel (Mytilus trossulus) shells washed up with the seaweed. I do not remember seeing so many in previous years. Apart from the ever present possibilities that I just didn’t pay enough attention or have forgotten what I did notice, I’m wondering if perhaps the Black Oystercatchers that have been frequenting the park all winter might have something to do with it.
While Connor was out try to get pictures of hummingbirds at a feeder we put up earlier in the week, he noticed a robin nest in the tree adjacent to our house. I can see it from where I work at the computer, so it should be interesting to watch over the coming weeks.
Yesterday evening when I was headed home from checking for shorebirds at the park, the clouds lifted a bit and I saw the snow level had dropped to under 1000 feet, which is pretty low for this time of year. Still, the shorebirds are moving and I like to see what comes through, so I headed down to Totem Park again this morning to see if anything had changed. Unfortunately, my timing wasn’t that great – graupel was starting to fall as I left, and by the time I got to the park, it was coming down pretty hard. Out on the flats, visibility was not great and it felt quite chilly with a bit of a breeze coming from the East.
Despite difficulty seeing what was out there, I ventured out to the water’s edge on the flats near the river mouth. We’re in the midst of a minus tide series, and this morning’s low was somewhere in the neighborhood of a -2.5, which meant the water’s edge was quite a ways out there. So far this spring, the bulk of the shorebirds seem to be hanging out on either side of the river mouth (Totem Park flats or the beach over off Eagle Way), and this morning was no exception.
Most of the birds were on a sandbar that was far enough away that I couldn’t really see well enough through the falling pellets of snow to identify things very reliably. As I looked around, it seemed like the snow shower would let up soon – I could see where things were clearing up a bit in directions I thought the weather might be coming from. In the end, I ran out of patience with the conditions, mostly I was just getting quite uncomfortable (cold and wet). In hindsight I probably could have waited it out if I had dressed more like I might for mid-winter outings.
A while after I left the park, it snow flakes actually started falling, but by early afternoon the sun came out and though it was still a bit chilly the sun took the edge off. I was able to check at Eagle Way beach and saw 10 Marbled Godwits (among other things) – the highest count I’ve had so far this year.