Turning toward Spring

Contrary to forecast, skies over town remained mostly clear through the day. There was a bit of an east wind to make things feel a little cooler, but even so, temperatures warmed up to the low 40s. I was able to find a spot on the south side of a Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) in … Read more

Return to the 40s

Today was rather spring-like in many respects. Although snow may have falling as forecast in other parts of the area, very little snow fell in town. There was just enough wet snow to stick to the previously wind-polished ice and subsequently refreeze, leaving things much less slippery than before (a fact that was somewhat disappointing to me, as I had been thinking I would spend a little time skating/sliding down the ice hill with Connor and Rowan). As temperatures rose to over 40 by later this morning, the ice started to soften and melt.

Skies were partly to mostly cloudy through much of the day (with a fair amount of sun), and there was still some wind today, but it seemed to be out of a direction that made it much less noticeable in the areas I was walking around. By later this evening it seemed as though skies were mostly clear, and the ice had hardened up again, though air temperatures were still in the mid to upper 30s.

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Trip to SeaMart

Walked over to the new house this morning and then made a trip to SeaMart this afternoon, but other than that was in doors. Heavy overcast prevailed, though the wind was primarily out of the east – I was blown right along while walking down Sawmill Creek Road from Jeff Davis Street. I thought the texture of the clouds was interesting in the pictures I took from the SeaMart parking lot this afternoon.

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Walk to UAS

This entry is part 44 of 133 in the series 2011 Photojournal

Not much time spent outside today – just walking over to the house and back this morning, then over to UAS in the afternoon. Winds were starting to pick up this afternoon with a few white caps pushing past the bridge into the channel. Temperatures were around freezing, significantly warmer than they had been previously. … Read more

Walk through Totem Park

Sapsucker weather continued today, though it did begin to moderate. Temperatures reached the mid-20s, warm enough that the sun warmed ground was sufficient to start melting ice along the roads and sidewalks. Forecast is for increasing wind and cloudy conditions with temperatures still remaining chilly, but not nearly so cold as over the past few days. While out today, it seemed like the predominant wind was out of the east, though it was a bit swirly – a couple of times I was hit by small gusts coming out of the west. It also seemed as though on the water waves were coming partially out of the south.

I went on a walk around the park to get to the Post Office. I was curious about how many sapsuckers I would find. I don’t have the count handy, but I think it was at least 10 between the house and the end of the park near the river mouth, plus an additional couple later in the day that I saw in the neighborhoods around the new house. The tide was up during my walk and I noticed Mallards and Barrow’s Goldeneye were feeding quite close to the shore along the rocks at the northwest end of the little sandy cove between Merrill Rock and the bed rock out crops before Sage Rock (this was in addition to another 50 or so Mallards sleeping on gravel at Sage Beach). It’s not unusual to see Mallards close in like this, but I don’t often see Barrow’s Goldeneye feeding quite so close to shore.

Crossing the river, it appeared the ice was starting to collapse and the river was running higher. Given the still below freezing temperatures, this seemed a little odd and I didn’t think the tide was high enough to push quite that far up the river. Perhaps I should have checked out when temperatures were still down in the teens. Quite a few Varied Thrushes were foraging along the river banks, while one American Dipper was splashing about in the open water in the center of the river.

On my return from the post office, I noticed something running across the street in front of the drive to the lower park parking lot. I suspected it was a cat, but didn’t get a great look before it was out of sight behind a house. I decided to investigate more closely and found that it was a cat. It had caught a sapsucker (no doubt when it was at the base of a tree tapping – they’re not accustomed to cats as predatory threats, I suspect). I heard a squeak or two from the sapsucker and approached to investigate more closely. The cat was distracted by me, and the bird took the opportunity to roll upright and take flight, returning to the spruce trees near where it had been captured.

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Sapsucker Weather

Walking across the yard this afternoon, I noticed a Red-breasted Sapsucker working at the trunk of a Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla). I was reminded that this sort of weather (perhaps especially at this time of year) makes for good opportunities to look for sapsuckers. They winter here in limited numbers, though I more often see them at mid-elevations than at sea level. However, when temperatures drop into the 20s and teens they will show up at sea level, especially near shores with sizable trees and good southern exposure. At such times they will really work at the base of the trees, I imagine because it’s the first place the sap will run – perhaps even when air temperatures are quite cold if the trunk is sufficiently warmed by the sun. When I saw it, this particular sapsucker was checking out wells that had evidently been made over the past few days. After it flew off, I checked them out, and they appeared to be pretty dry.

Winds were down today, though there was still a little bit of breeze. Temperatures warmed slightly, and are forecast to warm further over the rest of the week (though the wind is supposed to pick up later tomorrow). Some clouds were evident to the south and west as I walked home from UAS – the sunset was quite colorful, perhaps because of those clouds. On the way to UAS I noticed a somewhat strange looking cloud that appeared to be over Indian River Valley (though it’s difficult for me to say exactly). It was very smooth and I’m thinking that was probably due to wind sculpting. It was also quite isolated, so I’m curious as to what may have led to its development.

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