Today was one of those days when it seemed like it would have been a perfect day to do a bunch of different things, most of which I was not able to do. Calm temperatures and storm-petrels in the bay tempted me for kayaking, fall with clear skies made climbing a mountain and looking for migrating raptors appealing as well. Tonight’s forecast for Northern Lights made me want to hike up to Harbor-Gavan Shelter to get a better view of the show. In the end, I had to settle for birding around town, as I had previously made arrangements to take care of Connor and Rowan so Melissa could do her writing today and I could go up to Salmon Lake tomorrow.
This morning before picking Rowan up from preschool, I went looking for birds at Swan Lake, Moller Park, and Thompson Harbor with a couple of other brief stops on the way. I heard there had been northern lights early this morning, and the forecast was for more tonight, so I spent an hour or so this evening watching and photographing them. This afternoon Connor, Rowan, and I walked down to Totem Park.
Weather: It was clear overnight with a relatively heavy frost this morning. Steam was rising off the lake, as it was significantly warmer than the surrounding air. It was sunny through the day and clear this evening. I did see a brief period auroral activity over the Sisters, but mostly I could just see a green glow behind the mountains. There was just a hint of a breeze out of the Northwest when I was at Thompson Harbor this morning. This afternoon there was a light breeze out of the Southeast at Totem Park.
I saw two Northern Flickers and one Steller’s Jay while biking this morning. The first flicker was by Baranof School, the second and the jay were along Cascade Street.
At Swan Lake I saw an American Coot, Cackling Goose, several scaup, and an American Wigeon.
Along the Walk of Hope, there were Dark-eyed Juncos singing a little bit as well as a Song Sparrow that sounded a little strange. At the Swan Lake end of the track I saw two Golden-crowned Sparrows (just as I was thinking I had not seen any Golden-crowned Sparrows this fall). As I was watching them, a third bird joined them out of the bushes, it was an American Tree Sparrow. This was the first time I have observed one of them. In the grassy area outside of left field, I saw a lone Savannah Sparrow.
At Thompson Harbor I saw at least a couple of Pelagic Cormorants, a Black-legged Kittiwake out off the end, and in the distance, though inside the breakwater, there were two loons, probably Common Loons.
In the channel there were not too many gulls, and I did see two Long-tailed Ducks.
Out in Crescent Bay I saw several Fork-tailed Storm-petrels.
This afternoon at the park there were quite a few Harlequin Ducks out in the bay, I saw at least a couple of Fork-tailed Storm-petrels, one of which flew fairly close to shore at one point. There were few gulls today and only a handful in the river. Other birds I noticed were Mallards, a few Surf Scoters, a Hermit Thrush (on the beach), Varied Thrush, Common Mergansers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and two Brown Creepers.
Other Notes: There was a Harbor Seal not far off the beach at the park.
At Thompson Harbor I noticed a couple of different species of small fish, though I am not sure what they were. I think they are probably what attracts the cormorants, loons, and what alcids show up in the harbor in November.
Tonight I did some night photography of the moon and northern lights at Sage Beach and on the SJ quarry road.