I was not planning to spend much time outside today, but I thought I should get out at least a little bit, so I took a short lunch time walk down to Lincoln Street Beach. While there, I saw some tracks in the sand and realized the bit of sand just below the large rocks that control erosion on the slope up to the street would make a good place to go practice trying to read tracks. Later in the afternoon, I got an e-mail report of a Lapland Longspur on Alice Island. I used that as an excuse to get out once more, and biked over to look for the bird.
Weather: The weather ended up being pretty decent. It was breezy, but not as windy as had originally been forecast. It was partly cloudy for much of the day. Chilly, but above freezing.
Birds: I saw a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the bushes across from Sage Building.
I did get a look at the Lapland Longspur on Alice Island, but not much of one. When I arrived, the person who reported it to me pointed out where she had seen it throughout the day. I walked back along the narrow gravel road lined on one side by a fenced in playground and on the other by 8-10 foot tall alder trees with few leaves. Just past a bend in the road, I saw the bird. I tried to approach slowly, but it took off and flew over the trees. I sat and waited, as I had been told the bird was chased off more than once, but kept coming back to the same location. After just a couple of minutes I saw the bird fly over, so I stood up to watch where it was headed. I had barely had a chance to stand up and get oriented when I saw the bird coming back toward me with a raptor in pursuit. Fortunately for the longspur, the raptor could not quite make the grab and it gave up. I watched it fly up and start gaining elevation over the airport runway. It looked like several other birds were soaring in the area as well. I was not able to relocate the longspur in the 20 minutes or so that I tried after that. Presumably it was pretty nervous about coming out into the open again.
Flora: There were a lot of alder seeds on the ground where the longspur was foraging. I am guessing that the bird was eating them.
Tracks and Sign: There were at least a couple of sets of tracks in the sand at the beach. One of them was quite faint, I think it may have rained after they were made. The other was quite fresh, but a little difficult for me to interpret. As best I can tell, a small dog was running and jumping around on the beach. However, some of the tracks did not seem to have any follow up prints. I suppose the animal could have been capable of jumping much further than I might have guessed (although I did not see evidence of landing), or something else was going on. I did take a bunch of pictures, so I might try to puzzle it out some more from them.
tracks at beach (dog?)