Lengthening Days

This week the daylight seems to have caught me by surprise. I guess it’s already a month past equinox, but for some reason I hadn’t adjusted to the reality of the sun setting after 8pm. I’ve been following my patterns without thinking about it much, but since they’re a bit keyed to the amount of light, it seems “suddenly” late and I still have several things to do. As a result, I’ve been up late several days, but on the other side of things, the early daylight makes it harder to keep sleeping in (plus I have scheduled things that require I be up at least somewhat early most days), so I’m getting less sleep than I prefer. I’m also not getting up quite as early as I prefer for this time of year. Hopefully I can adjust (soon) to the late spring/summer timing of light and settle into a stable pattern that allows adequate sleep again.

Weather-wise, it was a sunny day. Though there was frost this morning in the neighborhood, things warmed up later in the day. This afternoon the breeze was cool, and this evening overcast rolled in. The marine stratus layer that built up around Mt. Edgecumbe was pretty neat, but I didn’t get a chance to try for photos until it had nearly completely enveloped the whole mountain.

Bird-wise I saw three new-for-the-year birds today. The Eurasian Wigeon was still down at Totem Park late this afternoon. Joining the dabbling ducks out front were a couple of Bonaparte’s Gulls. As I was walking out of Marge’s this evening it took me a moment to place the chirring sound I heard with more typical robin notes. I was surprised to see a waxwing (early for Cedars, late for Bohemians). I didn’t get a great look, but I think it was a Bohemian, as it appeared to have dark under the tail.

Plants are growing quickly – some of Marge’s stream violets had started to bloom. On Castle Hill I saw some well-developed siberian miner’s lettuce (Claytonia sibirica) and decided to take my annual taste. They still taste like musty/fungus-y dirt (for lack of a better description).

Late this morning the kids and I picked up 8 buckets of seaweed where it had washed up on Sage Beach. Probably a combination of light-driven growth, low tides with some pretty good wind/waves over the weekend resulted in a reasonable pile to gather from.

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Spring Songs and Insects

I enjoyed the usual early spring birds songs emanating from the forest on a walk through the park this morning. There was the buzzing notes of Varied Thrush, rapid fire bursts from Pacific Wrens, short but acrobatic melodies of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and the falling song of Golden-crowned Kinglets. The tide was up relatively high, and a cursory look didn’t any shorebirds other than 15 or so Black Oystercatchers. A much reduced flock of dabbling ducks was out in front of the visitor center, but I did not see anything unusual. (Later in the day a Eurasian Wigeon was reported in the mix – probably the same one reported at Swan Lake early this morning.)

There were several of the red net-winged beetles (Dictyoptera simplicipes) that is fairly common in forests this time of year. Of particular interest to me was a stack of three. It’s the first time I’ve seen them like that (I don’t even recall seeing two together before). I assume it had something to do with mating, but I don’t really know.

Another first of season insect was the Small Engrailed Moth (Ectropis crepuscularia). I’ve seen this kind of moth in prior years (though I am not 100% confident about the correct identification). It seems to be relatively common among moths found on exterior walls where they’ve been attracted to light.

This afternoon the first of a couple of shipments of plants arrived, so I guess I’ll have to start getting serious about where to put them in the yard sooner rather than later.

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Yellow Cedar Sapling

A few days ago I was walking through the park and happened to notice this yellow cedar sapling. I do not know of any (other) cedars growing within the park boundary, though there could be one or more mixed in the forest at the upper end. I don’t know how fast they grow, but I’m guessing the cedar starting growing within the past couple of years. It’s a mystery to me how the seed would have ended up at the base of an alder near the river mouth. I think the nearest place where there are many cedars is the muskeg between Jarvis Street and the Raptor Center. That isn’t all that far, but I still wouldn’t expect many seeds to make the journey.

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Windy Day

I woke up this morning hearing the wind blow through the trees. It was only intermittently gusty at the house, but when I was down near the water a couple of different times during the day, I saw that it was a pretty steady strong breeze raising white caps. I was also struck by the sculpted look of the clouds – perhaps some could even be considered lenticular clouds, but it was difficult for me to capture what I was seeing in a photo that effectively conveyed a similar sense.

Connor and Rowan checked on the dipper nest at the Sawmill Creek Road bridge, and said the dippers were still active there. They told me they saw the dippers mating and had a picture of one dipper doing some sort of courtship routine. I kind of wish I had gone down there (perhaps with a tripod). It would have been interesting to see and possibly get some video of the courtship activities.

They also checked on the wren nest I found yesterday and said there was still active work happening on it.

The tide was fairly high while I was down at the park, and I only saw one Greater Yellowlegs, and no other shorebirds. There was a report of Marbled Godwits at the Rec however (also, a report of an Orange-crowned Warbler yesterday at Biorka Island – a very early occurrence for town – but perhaps they show up earlier out there).

Hummingbirds have not been visiting our feeder consistently, but a walk around the corner this evening revealed where they are – a couple of neighbors on Etolin Sttreet have at least 5 or 6 feeders up between them, and I saw/heard several hummingbirds actively chasing each other and visiting the feeders.

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Walk around Totem Park

I took a walk around Totem Park this morning to check on flowers and shorebirds. New for the season was Fern-leaf Goldthread (Coptis asplenifolia) blooming in the spot where they grow behind the maintenance area. It had been a few days since I last checked there, so they probably came up a couple of days ago.

On the way down toward the foot bridge, I happened to note a Pacific Wren foraging on a good-sized spruce (Picea sitchensis). It was acting almost like a Brown Creeper at times. The whole story of the wren(s) deserves its own post, so I’ll save the rest for that, except to note that I did find a nest actively being worked on.

Down at the beach, the tide was out pretty far. I did see 7 Black-bellied Plovers. There were also quite a few Bald Eagles out on the flats. In front of the Visitor Center, the ducks were still hanging out (including the hybrid.

Later in the day I stopped by Swan Lake briefly. There weren’t many ducks in sight. Perhaps some have moved on (or are sticking to the park to feed on the herring eggs) and others are nesting and staying out of sight. One American Coot was still around.

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Mountain Snow

This year has not been a good one for mountain snow. The warm January and extended periods of dry weather throughout the winter and early spring appear to have resulted relatively low snow pack, as these two shots taken on the same day of the year this year (top) and in 2011 (bottom) show. I don’t recall 2011 being a particularly heavy snow year by standards of the past decade.

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