Daily Observations

Shorebirds

Weather: There was a wind advisory for 6am-3pm today. When I woke up this morning and it did not seem windy outside I wondered if the wind was late in coming. It was sprinkling when I went to class a little before 8am. By the time I was done with morning classes at 10am, there was a pretty good drizzle coming down. Temperatures started in the upper 30s and warmed to the low 40s. I discovered on a walk to the park that there was a pretty wind blowing out of the Southeast. Topography and forest seem to dampen it quite a bit near the house, however. The wind and rain made for a cold walk on the tideflats, especially since I made the mistake of walking into the wind (the smarter person would have started at the estuary and walked with the wind). Snow level was down a ways on Gavan Hill. I would estimate it to be around 1200 feet.

Birds: The small chirpy birds have been very active around the neighborhood the last couple of days. The weather has not seemed to dampen their spirits a bit. I still have been unable to get a good look at them to identify what they are. I am somewhat inclined to climb ot the top of the spruce tree and hope they visit. Another option is to try to get a recording to see if they are identifiable by call.

I took a walk to the park this morning around 11am. The weather was not so fabulous for one without adequate protection (mine was barely acceptable) and some of the birds seemed to notice. One of them noticed, anyway. There was a pretty soggy looking Bald Eagle perched on a rock just towards Sage Beach from Merril Rock. It did not seem too inclined to move.

As I was walking by the small patch of trees adjacent to the short path to Merrill Rock, I heard the sound of wings hitting branches. That’s fairly typical when a larger bird is trying to get into or out of a bit of dense vegetation. Along with the sound, I saw a flash of movement, but I was never able to visually locate a bird, even after venturing into the brush. It is possible that it was just a small bird, as I did see a Song Sparrow that seemed a little bothered by my presence. When I went back to the sidewalk I also saw a Raven, but it was up higher in the trees and I do not know how it could have made it out of the thick brush without being heard or seen.

As I was walking down the tideflats, something caused a sizable flock of gulls to take flight. I was still a long distance, so I do not think it was me. Other, more difficult to see birds, seemed to take the cue from the gulls and took flight as well. I saw three Black-bellied Plovers that had been down near the water where I could not see them behind a small rise. I heard a Greater Yellowlegs before I was able to locate it just before it landed. I also saw and heard a flock of shorebirds (that sounded like Surfbirds or Black Turnstones) in the distance as they flew toward the estuary.

Once past the largest tidepool, I walked around the flats following the shoreline, doing my best to squint through the blowing rain as I walked face into it. I did not see any birds until I reached the point between the old and current river channels. A few of the gulls took off and I was able to see that the shorebirds had been in among them. Not wearing boots, I had to walk around the flooded low area that I think was formerly the river channel and back out to where I could see the birds. I was able to see that it was a mixed flock of 50-75 Surfbirds and Black Turnstones, though with the wind and rain and their constant motion, it was difficult to tell which species, if either, was more numerous.

On my way out to get a better look at the shorebirds, I had noticed five ducks take flight from the river mouth and land up in the estuary area. They looked small, but from a distance it was difficult to tell for sure. The driving rain and overall darkness of the day also made it difficult to see any distinguishing color. After observing the shorebirds, I walked back up to the estuary. Well before I was anywhere near, the ducks took flight. I was still too far to get a good look, so I watched where they landed and walked towards them again. These birds were especially wary, I guess as this pattern was repeated another time. I was going to give up, but I noticed they landed at a place where I could get a little closer without being seen by keeping an intertidal gravel bar between myself and them. Using this approach, I was able to get a good enough look to identify at least two of the birds as Male Green-winged Teal. The other birds looked very similar in flight, and I’m pretty sure they were also Male Green-winged Teal.

Back in my office after lunch, I could hear the robins calling (alarming?) as students walked across campus after class.

There was a robin calling stridently while I was giving a test to my 2pm class. I kept looking out the window, but could not see it. I eventually saw it on the ground (though it had stopped calling). I think it had been on the roof of the building I was in. While it was calling, there were 4 starlings feeding on the ground below. Actually, there were two, then a third flew in. Finally a fourth flew in and was promptly chased away by one or two of the others. The fourth starling was more brown colored than the other birds (the others were the speckled black that I am used to seeing). I am not sure why they chased it, but it happened a couple of times.

The Winter Wren was calling this evening as it was getting dark around 8pm.

There was a report of a single Marbled Godwit at the Turnaround a couple of days ago.

Flora: The Salmonberry flower buds along Lincoln Street are out, but not showing any pink yet. If the weather was forecast to be sunny, I would expect them to open up in the next couple of days. As it is, the forecast is for temperatures in the upper 30s to low 40s, so they’ll probably take a little longer.

Insects: There was a bumblebee busy with the blueberry flowers along Lincoln Street. Given the chill in the air and the level of activity I observed, it made me wonder if the bees I had seen acting very lethargic previously and attributed to cool temperatures, were actually lethargic for some other reason.

About matt goff

I am an aspiring naturalist who seeks to learn all that I can about the more-than-human aspects of this place that is my home.
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