Weather: It was partly cloudy this morning when I woke up. When I left the house a little before 8am, it looked like there was an overcast off shore that might move over town as the day went on. There were also some clouds over the mountains, but it was mostly blue sky right over town. By the time I was done teaching my morning classes at 10am, the clouds offshore had built up and turned dark gray. The bottom of them was low enough to obscure Mt. Edgecumbe. I went for a walk around 11am and the conditions were similar. As the photo with today’s entry shows, the clouds were darker toward the horizon and thinned out to blue sky overhead. I kept expecting the clouds to move in and maybe get a little rain, but it never happened. There was still enough sun to cause shadows into the evening. Winds throughout the day were light and out of the west.
Birds: Today was an interesting day for birds, as much for what I did not see as for what I did. I took a walk down to Totem Park between 11am and noon. I saw a couple of Buffleheads along Sage Beach, and a couple more in the big tidepools at the park. I did not see any other ducks along the shore or in the estuary. The tide was out and I was not wearing boots, so I did not go all the way out to the mouth of the river. It is possible some were down in that area, but my guess is most have started their migration, are on the recently thawed lakes, or out where the herring have been spawning. There was a flock of gulls out past the mouth of the river, but I did not get close enough to get a good look.
As I was starting to head up the river/estuary, I noticed a Song Sparrow along the edge of the forest. That is not so unusual, but this one seemed to have a little more contrast (was less drab brown) than most of the ones I see around here. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture, so I can’t really confirm that impression.
As I continued up the trail at the edge of the estuary, I kept hearing a squeak-like call. I thought it was a Woodpecker (Hairy or Downy), but also considered the possibility of it being a squirrel, so I wanted to confirm. I was able to see it, but not well enough to determine whether it was a Hairy or Downy. I think I also heard another woodpecker tapping, but I could not find it visually. The one that was calling was pretty vocal as it flew from tree to tree. Eventually I heard it calling as it flew over to the other side of the estuary.
The highlight of my day was watching a pair of Winter Wrens while I was at the park. I think one of them was a male trying to woo the other one (which presumably was a female). I intend to write a longer entry about this sometime in the next couple of days when I have the time. The photo of the wren included with this entry is not necessarily spectacular, but what was exciting for me is that it is a full frame shot. The wren ended up getting so close to me that I could no longer focus on it.
While I was watching the wrens I saw some Golden-crowned Kinglets and heard a Brown Creeper. During this time I also saw a mink nose its way up toward the trail from the estuary. I glanced over and saw something crawling up, but I was not sure what it was. It almost looked like a squirrel, but as it came a little closer to the trail, I was able to see that it was a mink. I just got a glimpse of its face before it must have realized I was there (only about 5-10 feet away) and it disappeared back from where it had come.
While sitting by the spruce tree, I heard some high pitched notes that sounded almost like Golden-crowned Kinglets to me, but they did not sound much like they were coming from the trees. Those calls can be difficult to place, so I did not think much about it until a little later I saw three Fox Sparrows. As they came out into the open a little bit and I heard the high pitched calls again, I realized they were the birds making those calls.
Other Notes: Saw the first mosquitos of the year. A couple flew in the kitchen window while I was working on the dishes this evening.
The trailing currents leaves have started to push open through the buds down at the park.
I checked on what the deer had been browsing on in the old garden and it was the carrot family plant like I thought.
I noticed some bird feathers today that I had not seen previously. It looked like they came from a Varied Thrush. There is a pile of Varied Thrush feathers some distance away that I had noticed before, but there is no easy way for the feathers to get from one location to the other by drifting on the wind. For that reason I am uncertain whether the feathers are related. Perhaps the bird was captured/killed in one spot and consumed in the other.
Some of the moss near the spruce tree was sending up what I think are sporophytes that I do not remember seeing previously. I’ll try to get a picture of them in the next couple of days.