Raven Radio Show #87 – Kitty LaBounty

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The 23 August show featured a conversation with Kitty LaBounty. We talked about an upcoming fungus talk and mycopigment workshop that occurring as part of the Natural History Seminar series, and also about her travels to Adak and Nome this year.

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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Migration and Weather

Biorka Island Radar 10:49 pm, 13 August 2015.

Biorka Island Radar 10:49 pm, 13 August 2015.

A few years ago I started watching the Biorka Island radar for signs of migration (my first post on the subject from back in 2009), and although I’ve not gone through and made careful notes, my sense of things is that we’re into a period of peak migration (that shows up on the radar, anyway) which will last into September, at least. Fall weather being what it is, it’s often not possible to see through all the rain showing up on the radar whether or not migration is occurring on those nights when conditions are not free of precipitation. This evening I decided to check the radar and found a clear contrast to what showed up late last week, a difference I think probably has everything to do with the weather.

Late last week a high pressure ridge formed over Southeast Alaska, so we had clear skies with (around Sitka, anyway) sea breezes kicking up during the day, but dying down at night. During the evening of the 13th, when the radar image that leads this post was captured, conditions at the airport were calm. Today we saw low clouds with intermittent rain and fairly light winds, though mostly out of the south or southeast. This evening at the time the radar image below was captured, winds were out of the southeast at 4-5 mph. We are forecast to get a heavy dose of rain in the next 24-36 hours (starting more in the north), and it is probably the leading edge of that which shows up in the upper part of the radar image.

What is striking to me is the absence of any southbound birds (green means movement is towards radar, red indicates movement away). Winds don’t seem strong enough to make a big difference in whether birds would choose to fly. The rain is not falling here yet, and it seems plausible birds could take off and stay ahead of it (or maybe head down again if the rain catches them and they don’t want to fly through it). I wonder if the heavy/low clouds are part of what is keeping them down, or perhaps they can sense the coming storm and are opting to hang low until it passes.

As usual, I feel like I have more questions than answers, but it’s fun to speculate and perhaps over time I’ll gradually get some insight into at least some of these questions.

On a related note, this is a good time of year to go outside during the hours after sunset and listen for night flight calls of migrating birds. When I stepped out to watch for some late perseids during the tail end of last week’s meteor shower, I heard several birds calling as they flew over. It made me want to getting my recording setup going again and see what I could capture, though living along the main road makes that seem a bit less optimal (though traffic noise is only intermittent throughout the night). In contrast, when I listened for a brief time this evening, I didn’t hear any migrants (though I did hear a screech owl calling from somewhere in the neighborhood, and also felt surprisingly warm, no doubt due to it being 59F with 100% humidity and a dew point of 59F, near the 60F dewpoint line where the mugginess gets increasingly uncomfortable)

Biorka Island Radar 10:47 pm, 17 August 2015.

Biorka Island Radar 10:47 pm, 17 August 2015.

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Straying Sockeye Salmon

A couple of days ago while on a walk up Indian River trail, I noticed a red salmon in Indian River. I was not completely sure at the time, but it sure looked like a sockeye salmon, presumably one that strayed from a nearby system (the nearest is at Salmon Lake probably 10-15 miles away). Yesterday I was able to get back and take some video of the fish in the water by setting up my GoPro anchored to the bottom where the fish seemed to prefer hanging out. Most of the fish in the video are pink salmon, but there are also some dolly varden (the smaller fish).

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Raven Radio Show #86 – Jonathan Goff

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The 9 August show featured a conversation with Jonathan Goff. My brother and I spoke about tracking, some of the ways he’s practiced it, and some of our experiences around Sitka with tracking.

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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Raven Radio Show #85 – Kate Mohatt

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The 26 July show featured a conversation with Kate Mohatt. Kate is works with the USFS on the Chugagch National forest and was in town last fall to give a talk on mushrooms as part of the Natural History Seminar Series. She also led a mushroom walk on Saturday morning. I recorded the conversation with her at that time, and now that the fall season has rolled around again and mushrooms have started coming out in bigger numbers, thought it would be a good time to play this conversation on the air.

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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Leaf Mine in Foamflower Leaf

Over the 2+ weeks since I last wrote, I’ve been keeping busy with some new work (part time, work from home) that I’m getting up to speed with. Fortunately the weather has been a little less compelling, with quite a bit of rain, so I’ve not felt too bad about my time inside. I did make it up Mt. Edgecumbe, up around Blue Lake (including a trip to see the upper end of the flooded forest), and multiple trips to the park (where shorebirds have been showing up on their southbound journey).

Earlier this week I picked about a quart of cloudberries (Rubus chamaemorus), but my container was full and I was getting tired, so I didn’t pick all that I found. With my kids returning and my dad arriving with them a couple of days ago and some sunshine today, I suggested we go pick more of the berries this afternoon. We tried a couple of different places. The first was a place I had previously found berries and thought there might be some, but it seemed like this year might have not been a good one there, as we did not find many. The second place was where I had picked previously. Between the two places we ended up with a second quart. That’s a a pretty good bunch for around Sitka, but one time I talked to someone who had gone home (to western Alaska) for berry camp, and they picked 80 gallons over a week or two. In hindsight I wish I had taken some pictures of the berries (both in place, and perhaps as I picked them), but that seems to be the way it goes with things that are relatively accessible. It’s easy to just assume I have good photos, but all too often it turns out that I’m neglecting a species.

The weather yesterday was quite wet, but this morning the skies were only partly cloudy. Throughout the day, it was probably mostly cloudy, but we didn’t see any rain until later this afternoon. Unfortunately that was around the time we went out to pick berries, so we got a little bit wet (although we missed the worst of it). It was a pretty good extended shower, but within an hour or so, the clouds were breaking up and the rest of the evening was nicely sunny.

Today’s photos are of foamflower (Tiarella trifoliata) leaves that I collected a couple of days ago along Indian River trail. They’re the first I’ve noticed in that species with leaf mines, and fortunately I seem to have captured the pupa, so I have some hope of seeing an adult and learning (at least partially) what made the mines.

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