Today for birding class we walked along Westwood Trail and through Totem Park. Later this afternoon I had the chance wander around Indian River (below the water treatment building, but above Sawmill Creek Road).
Weather: I woke up to a pile of snow this morning. Once it finally started last night, it kept falling all day and still is falling this evening. Total accumulation for this storm is a little difficult to judge because there was some snow that had already been on the ground. However, I think it’s up over 12 inches by now. As much snow as that seems like for here, I heard that over 34 inches had fallen at Baranof Warm Springs during this storm as of this morning. Winds were calmer around the places I spent time today, but it looked like there was still a good wind blowing a little further out on the water.
Birds: We saw a fairly good variety of birds this morning, considering the weather. There were one or two American Dippers in Indian River, a slew of Mallards, both in the river and out in the estuary. A fair number of Common Mergansers and two Trumpeter Swans were also up in the river (the tide was up fairly high). We saw an American Wigeon in the estuary. There were also a couple of Song Sparrows along the trail that runs along the river bank. (One sparrow seemed to be chasing the other. We did not see them for long.) Quite a few gulls were out off the river mouth, but they were too distant to tell for sure what they were. At least one Common Goldeneye was off the south end of the park. We also saw Barrow’s Goldeneye, Surf Scoters and Harlequin Ducks.
In Indian River there was a pair of Mallards actively excavating gravel. It appeared that they were getting food in this manner. It may have been invertebrates or perhaps recently hatched salmon still hiding in the gravel. When we first arrived there was a (presumed) female Common Merganser that seemed to be tagging along with the Mallard pair. Both the male and female Mallard would occasionally chase her off a little bit, but she continued to hang around. It was unclear what the merganser was doing; perhaps she just liked the Mallards, or it may be that she was taking advantage of their work to pick up food that they stirred up. She seemed a little more timid about our sizable group of people and flew off a little bit after we arrived, although the Mallards stayed.
The Ravens were calling quite a bit around Indian River today. I did not actually see too many of them except when they flew over, but their calls were quite evident.
Other Notes: There was an interesting slurry of snow in the water along the beach. Apparently it was cool enough and there was enough snow so that the rising tide did not melt all of the snow that had fallen on the beach since the last high tide.