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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Alaska Blueberry Flower

Just a single observation (and photo) from today – my first Alaska blueberry (Vaccinium alaskaense) flower of the year. I’ve seen early blueberries have been blooming for about a couple of weeks.

It was a full day of calls/work, a conversation for radio, and a talk this evening. With not much sleep last night, I opted for a nap rather than a longer walk around the park.

The pattern of mostly cloudy skies with light winds and occasional drizzle continued.

Connor saw a few Short-billed Dowitchers down at the park, another new species, but so far things seem to just be moving through without spending much time here in town.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Sitka Nature Show #129 – Ellen Chenoweth and Madison Kosma

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The 16 April show featured a conversation with Ellen Chenoweth and Madison Kosma. We talked about the whales in Sitka Sound this winter as well as the project Ellen started and Madison is continuing looking at the interaction of humpback whales with hatchery smolt releases on the east side of Baranof Island.

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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Suddenly Ice Free

Yesterday Swan Lake appeared to be about 90% covered in ice, so I was taken aback to see today it was completely ice free. Now I’m wish I had gone down and looked at the quality/nature of the ice yesterday (and perhaps in the days preceding that). I haven’t ever watched the (d)evolution of ice as it rots out. On the other hand, I have been a little surprised at how long it’s taken the ice to melt, as it has been at least a couple of weeks since we had much in the way of freezing temperatures.

Although winds did not seem as strong overnight as forecast (at least at my place), the buoy had seas to 20 feet this morning. In my outings during the day, I saw it was windier in other places, but the downtown area seemed sheltered from the brunt of the wind.

I took a quick walk around the park this afternoon. I found a moth (second I’ve seen this year – Connor had found one a month ago), and noticed blueberry flowers on a couple of bushes that were almost fully emerged. Some salmonberries also had buds that were getting far along.

A lone Trumpeter Swan at Indian River seems to be all that remains of the 40+ that overwintered along the road system.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Channel Gulls and Yard Plants

A colorful mix of bryophytes colonized soil below a tree I planted last year

Gulls continued in good numbers in the channel. I made a trip to look for anything unusual, and spotted the Slaty-backed Gull that was there yesterday. Once again, I first saw it out in the middle (from the Katlian side), but it moved over to near the ramp shortly after.

This evening I spent some time in the yard doing a little pruning of trees and checking out some of the herbaceous plants that survived the winter as basal rosettes (see iNaturalist observations linked below).

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Sitka Nature Show #128 – Sonia Nagorski

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The April 2nd show featured a conversation with Sonia Nagorski – we talked about the role of black carbon in the environment, and in particular, how it can have a disproportionate effect on the melting of snow and ice. She and other colleagues recently did some preliminary work looking at black carbon on the Juneau Ice field.

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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