Recent Observations

Cornus canadensis leaves

I have been busy with a number of different things over the last couple of weeks and have not managed to make time to keep up with the updates of daily observations. Over this time, I have managed to get out a few times, including a couple of kayaking trips to Crescent Bay, and a trip or two to Starrigavan Estuary. I may write a couple of entries and back date them if I can remember enough of any of these trips that seems like it might worth keeping a record of here.

Weather: Despite October’s fierce reputation for inclement weather, I seems like there may have already been more ‘nice’ days this month than in August and September combined. (Where ‘nice’ means significant sunshine or at least very minimal rain during the day. Warm temperatures are good too.) There certainly have been some rainy days, but on a number of those days, temperatures hit the upper 50’s and it seemed kind of nice with the warmth.

Birds: The peak of fall migration seems to be behind us. I have not seen any warblers for the last week or two. I see an occasional Hermit Thrush, and the number of sparrows of all types (except for resident Song Sparrows) has dropped significantly.

Interesting birds I have seen around the house the last week or so have included a Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, and a Brown Creeper.

The Steller’s Jays are still coming for peanuts. For a week or so there was only one, but a couple of days ago a second one reapeared. The second was far more bold, and I think it may have been the bird that we first started feeding peanuts. I am not sure why it disappeared for awhile, but it did seem to have a droopy left wing when it was perched. I did not notice any problems with its flight, however.

I do not know if this is an unusual year for kittiwakes, or I’m just getting out on the water a little more, but I’ve regularly seen a number of different Black-legged Kittiwakes this fall.

I have also seen a number more non-Bald Eagle raptors than I am used to. In addition to the Sharp-shinned Hawk I saw at the end of September, I have seen what I think is a Merlin a couple of different times as I drove back toward town from the Airport (near the long term parking area). Yesterday it was the young Red-tail Hawk (which we caught a glimpse of today as well). Today there was a young Northern Harrier on Harbor Mountain and another raptor that was too far away for me to tell with certainty (though I’m pretty sure it was not an eagle).

Flora: Plants are definitely responding to the diminishing daylight. Pond-lilies on Swan Lake are largely gone. Mt. Ash trees and the willow in the back yard have yellow leaves that have started to fall. The alders seem to be putting up a fight, as leaves have been slow to drop. Perhaps with the late start they got this spring, they are trying to get everything they can out of these fall days.

Despite the late season, I did notice some yarrow still blooming along Blue Lake Road a couple of days ago.

Other Notes: There are still a few nearly dead pink and/or chum salmon in the lower stretches of Indian River, but most of them seem to be gone. Though I haven’t gone to look for myself, students have told me that there are quite a few silvers in some of the holes a little up river, however.

A couple of different students told me about seeing a pod of Orca come pretty close to shore at Whale Park last week. That would have been pretty neat to see. It reminds me of the thought I try to remember when I’m unmotivated to get out and feeling like there’s probably not much to see anyway: ‘The only thing you can guarantee about seeing interesting things in nature is that you won’t see anything if you don’t get out.’ I suppose the corollary is that the more you get out, the more you will see.

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