Evening Walk to Totem Park

It was a fairly busy day at home with calls and class. As I was nearing the end of the day and seeing I would have about 30 minutes before sunset, I thought I would take a quick walk down to the park to see if there was anything new. I was almost ready to go and decided it wasn’t really worth the effort to hurry down there in the fading light, but just a couple of minutes later I felt compelled to get out anyway, so started on down.

It was fairly quiet in the neighborhood, but I did hear a robin and Varied Thursh as I walked across the SJ campus. When I reached the beach in front of the visitor center at the park, I noticed a Semipalmated Plover. I suspect it was a relatively recent arrival, since it had let me approach pretty close without really moving – even after I finally noticed it and stopped to observe it and take some pictures, it did not seem inclined to spend much energy to get away from me. The plover ended up being the only shorebird I saw, though I did observe quite a few Mallards, some Buffleheads, a pair of Green-winged Teal and around in the estuary, 9 or more Canadian Geese.

Something else I noticed today were many moths flying up in front of me as I walked along. Unfortunately, I was not able to catch any of them to get a better look and I found myself wondering if it would be worth carrying a small net with me to. However, I was able to get a look at one of them that landed on a branch near me. I’m pretty sure it was an Anticlea vasiliata, a reasonably distinctive moth I’ve seen several times before.

Also of interest today was another European Ground Beetle that Rowan brought home. She brought one home a couple of days ago as well – I was actually kind of impressed that she carried such a big beetle home in her hands (she caught it over on the SJ campus). This time her beetle was contained in foil, as it had started biting her and she found it painful enough that she didn’t want to have it in her bare hands. I guess she and Connor found a scrap of foil and worked out a way to use it to suit their needs in the moment. She kept it in a container while she drew a picture, then released it in the yard. She told me she wants to catch 100 of them – she’s up to 5 or 6 now (including two or three this year, an some from past years).

A couple other notes from my walk. There were two people in kayaks and one in chest waders at the river mouth (tide was coming up and there wasn’t much beach left, so they were in reasonably close). I could see the guy in waders was fishing, but I’m not sure about the kayakers. I think they were probably all friends, and maybe all fishing. I was also noticing more smells than I’m used to. Not sure if it was just especially good conditions, or if my nose was more sensitive because it’s been plugged up a bit recently (I think I get a bit of hay fever type symptoms from the Red Alder pollen that’s out right now). Anyway, several places along the walk I noticed smells that would ordinarily be pretty subtle, but in this case jumped out at me. Ones I remember now include a resinous smell coming from the forest as I walked the upper shoreline. I also noticed the smell of grass/turf as I walked along a Lincoln Street yard.

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Song Sparrows

20120415_SOSP_Etolin_Street_Donnelly_Yard-3 I went for a walk this morning and saw some Song Sparrows getting in to it along Etolin Street. The recording above is one singing in the Donnelley’s yard, it had been trading songs with another one across the street. I even saw them have a brief physical skirmish sort of in the middle … Read more

Spring Evening

A fairly full day didn’t see me spend much time outside. It was mostly cloudy or overcast throughout the day, and we even got a bit of light rain, our first in a week or so, but only just enough to make the ground wet. I stepped outside this evening and snapped a photo of the Verstovia with the clouds nearly gone from the peak. I also took pictures of two of the several sparrows that continue to hangout among the crab pots in the neighbor’s yard.

I suspect the Song Sparrow(s) that have been there recently are first year birds or females. I have heard one singing, but not the full-on songs from a prominent perch like I’ve been hearing elsewhere in the neighborhood and beyond. The singing has been a more continuous sort – maybe a whisper song? Though it’s quieter than the regular songs, it’s not exactly a whisper. I’m not sure how quiet whisper songs typically are, though. Maybe stage whispers count.

Speaking of Song Sparrows, I checked on my observations for the year and I’m up to 149. Well short of the pace for 1000 by year’s end, but the pace has picked up in the last couple of weeks with all the singing birds. No doubt things will slow down dramatically by late fall, so if I have a hope of getting to my target, I’ll need to get a lot of observations in over the next few months. I started a map with notes on the Song Sparrows I’ve been observing and have been updating it regularly.

Song Sparrow Map

On the 1000 species front, I probably have a similar number so far, but I’ve not been keeping careful count yet, and have many observations (with photos) I need to get recorded.

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Overcast skies this morning gave way to mostly clear skies by noon. As the day went on, some clouds moved through, including a layer of what I think was altostratus clouds seen in these photos. It was not a thick layer of clouds, and they were too bright to look at directly in the neighborhood of the sun even when the sun was blocked out. I was wearing a pair of sunglasses to make it easier on my eyes while I was reading papers outside and I happened to glance up and notice the colored rings around the sun showing in the clouds. I didn’t remember noticing this before, but after doing bit of research I found out that a corona around the sun is one of the most common atmospheric phenomena. Although they are fairly common, they tend to be overlooked because the sun (and sunlit clouds) are too bright to look at. It is easier to observe a corona around a full moon, but since the moon is much less bright than the sun, it is quite unlikely to see multiple rings such as I saw today.

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Murre Pairings

On the way out toward Low Island this morning I noticed several pairs of Common Murres with one member appearing to be fully transitioned to summer styles and the other still clearly in winter.   These were isolated pairs, and I think almost every pair I noticed was like this (which may have amounted to something … Read more