Daily Observations

Mossy Forest

Today was the first day in quite some time that there was enough precipitation to make the ground wet. There was not enough to penetrate very deep or form puddles, but it definitely made a difference. The story of the day in the woods was how green everything looked. At first I was uncertain whether this was due to the bright diffuse light (from the light overcast), an internal change in my perception, or an actual greening up of the woods. After noticing that things did not seem so green in locations under trees where the moisture had not penetrated the canopy, I concluded that the mosses were responding to the much coveted influx of water.

Weather: Overcast throughout the day with sprinkles off and on. Temperatures in the 40s, but it seemed warmer to me. Perhaps it was the lack of any significant breeze. Patches of lower level clouds were on and off the mountain slopes. This afternoon, the overcast was light enough for a time to see a bright spot where the sun was.

Birds: I heard the flickers again this morning. They were closer than I have heard them recently, but not right next to the house.

The winter wren is still singing loudly in back. It almost sounded like he might have been singing in the backyard for awhile this morning instead of down the hill by maintenance.

I noticed a crow carrying a beak full of sticks fly over Rasmusson Student Center to the trees in the patch of forest between Indian River and the school. I was not able to see where the bird went, but I am guessing it was working on a nest.

I heard a Brown Creeper along with the kinglets in Totem Park near the bridge. There were also a couple of Varied Thrushes along the trail. There was some Winter Wren singing, but I did not hear any close to the trail. I did hear what I am pretty sure was a woodpecker calling repeatedly for a while.

As I walked along the edge of the woods at the lower end of the estuary, I noticed a Song Sparrow feeding in the grasses and debris at the edge of the high tide line. I decided to sit and watch it for a time. It was hopping and scratching to get food, but I am not sure what it was find to eat. It seemed only a little wary of me, and I was able to watch it from 8-12 feet away for quite some time. The gulls were noisy out along the shoreline (a hundred yards away or so) and would periodically all take flight like they were startled by something, but the sparrow did not seem to respond at all to their actions. Other birds were calling in the woods, but mostly it was squirrels chattering and calling that I could hear. The Song Sparrow went about its business of eating without seeming to notice any of that at all. That all changed with one particular squirrel call. It was repeated pattern of about 5 or 6 squeaks. As I was hearing that call I also saw the sparrow abruptly stop feeding and run over to a decent sized piece of wood where it could easily duck under and out of sight. It stayed still in that location (see photo) for a few minutes. It only moved away when I startled it by getting up to go talk to someone I knew who had walked out on the beach. I am not positive the sparrow was reacting to the squirrel, but it seems likely. Assuming this is correct, it seems like the sparrow must have interpreted the squirrel call as an indication that something may be coming that it should be concerned about. As it stayed on the ground (at a location it could get undercover easily), my guess is that it might have been a raptor like a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Song Sparrow Taking Cover

I spent a little bit of time observing the gulls. I did not notice too much worth mentioning except a mystery call.

Flora: I noticed some very young plants with leaves coming up in the debris near the high tide line. The mosses seem to be appreciating the sprinkles a great deal.

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