I made it on a short walk around Totem Park yesterday, but other than that, my time outside has been fairly limited. I suspect if there were not so much snow on the ground I would be a little more inclined to get outside. It just ends up helping me decide to stay inside and get some work done.
Weather: There’s been additional new snow each of the last two days. It’s still not exceptionally deep, although the total accumulation must be fairly high (for around here). There was very little wind yesterday. While at the park in the late afternoon, the glassy water extended from the park beach out past the green can (single buoy) in Eastern Channel. That means there was basically no wind to speak of out that far.
Birds: The song birds are still few. I have not seen the Varied Thrush again. I did see a Song Sparrow near Fraser. Actually, I heard it first. I was walking in front of the building when I thought I heard a bird singing. I could not quite place where it had come from, so I stopped to listen. After a few moments I heard it again. It sounded to me almost like a starling immitating a Song Sparrow, but I still could not see the bird. (Speaking of starlings, I have not seen many of them around town lately, and none around campus. Perhaps the snow has done them in, or maybe they’re just not sticking around campus right now.) After a few more moments, I noticed a movement in the bushes against the building, but did not get a good look. I moved around to see around the bush that the bird had moved under and was able to see that it was in fact a Song Sparrow. The song it was singing was not the full volume one it will likely be using soon. I guess it was just getting practiced up. Later in the afternoon, I saw it again in the same area. This time it was hop-scratching as it looked for food in the snow free dirt underneath the evergreen shrub beside the building. That’s a foraging technique that I tend to associate most strongly with Fox Sparrows.
At the park yesterday I didn’t have time to spend long looking at/for birds, but did make some obsesrvations. There were quite a few Barrow’s Goldeneyes out just off the beach near the river mouth. The gulls were also scattered about out there. There were two Great Blue Herons, one in the pool in front of the visitor’s center, the other a little further down the beach.
A local bird enthusiast sent me an e-mail about seeing a couple of Red-tail Hawks along Indian River last week. Someone else reported that he had seen them in the area recently as well. There is a chance they may try to nest in the area, though apparently the Ravens give the hawks a pretty hard time, so they may get chased off. I don’t think there has been any Red-tail Hawk breeding records for the Sitka area, though there is a decent chance that they do nest on the island on occasion.