See Sit Spot Challenge at Kamana.org for more about the challenge.
Time of sit: 1:30-2:30pm
It was a pleasant afternoon with partly cloudy skies and a light irregular breeze. I ended up spending an hour out in the backyard soaking up the sun while listening to the neighborhood goings-on and watching a couple of juncos and a spider.
At first I relaxed against the base of a Sitka Spruce tree. Almost laying down flat, I closed my eyes to the sun in my face and listened to the birds while enjoying the warmth of the sun on my skin. The irregular puffs of wind were almost too cool for comfort, but they were infrequent enough that the warming of the sun more than made for it.
The surface of the duff where I reclined was reasonably dry, due in large part to the drying effect of the mid-day sun. Not far below there was still significant moisture left from recent rains, though fortunately not enough to soak up into my clothes significantly. In my line of site, I noticed quite a few strands of traveling silk connecting various branches, shrubs, and the ground. I guess it is a time of year for spiders to be on the move again, looking for mates and/or suitable habitat for capturing prey and growing to maturity.
Unlike the first day, I heard many birds scattered throughout the neighborhood. Of particular note were a couple of male Dark-eyed Juncos that seem to be what remains of the winter junco flock. The first junco I noticed came toward me from the southeast, foraging its way on the ground through the still-leafless salmonberry canes. It got within 8-10 feet of me and seemed largely unconcerned as it passed in and out of sight moving through the bushes and little hummocks on the uneven moss and leaf covered ground. A loud noise not far behind me to the north caused me to sit up and look, and the junco subsequently flew further away. Not long after I decided to get up and go in (it was probably about 30 minutes since I started at this point).
As I was walking out, I had only moved a few paces when I noticed the junco coming back in my direction. I stood still and watched it, and once again it came with in 10 feet or less of where I was standing. I decided to sit on the moss at this location and observe the junco(s) for a while longer. I noticed he would periodically fly over to an elderberry bush and sing a few notes of his trilling song before returning to foraging. It was also during this time that I noticed a second junco. I thought originally it might be a female, but once I got a better look, saw that it was a male. I wonder now whether these were males hatched last year, and so perhaps are not quite with the program as far as breeding activity is concerned (which might explain their still hanging around the neighborhood and the fairly weak singing). This pair of males seemed to be keeping track of each other hanging loosely together; I’m pretty sure I heard contact calls from at least one of the birds – but they mostly seemed to stay a fair distance apart.
At one point when the juncos had moved off far enough that I was not sure where they were, I noticed a spider crawling along the ground near me. I turned to look at it, and it quickly hid itself under some of the needles and mosses on the ground. From what I could see of it, I think it was a Hackledmesh weaver (Callobius pictus), a species that seems to be fairly common in this house. I can’t really be sure, however, as I suspect there are other similar looking species around.
I also noticed a very small spider climbing up a silk to the needls of a Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) sapling, but it was so small I did not try to investigate it much closer. I just noted that it almost appeared to be taking in the silk line it was on. I wondered whether it could it its silk and thereby retrieve some of the resources used to make it in the first place, or if it was doing some sort of web repair, and it just looked like it was taking up the strand, but really was doing something else.
I stopped one more time on my way back to the house – this time sitting on an old alder log after I noticed a sparrow foraging in the shade of the house. I never did get a great look at it, but I suspect it was a Fox Sparrow – if not that, then probably a Song Sparrow. While I was sitting here, I noticed the smell of fresh green plants (or at least that’s what I associate the smell with – I imagine there only some plants that actually smell that way). It’s been a slow spring so far, but the plants have started to put out new growth.
One of the last things I observed before finally leaving for good was the departure of the two juncos I had been watching. One of them flew south over the neighboring house, but the other did not follow immediately. Given that they had been loosely associated I wondered if the second would ultimately follow the first. After a short time (less than a minute, I think), the second did fly off, but more towards the southwest, where it went between the house where I live and the neighboring one.