Returning Rain

The pattern of dry weather with plenty of sun drew to a close today. Rain was forecast for after 4 this afternoon, but it was after 8pm before enough rain started to fall that the ground got wet.

Spring migration is definitely picking up. Now it seems like we are starting to see some early arrivals with species I more typically expect to see a week or two later than now. Even more extreme was the bird that got me out of bed. Connor told me a Cedar Waxwing was in a neighbor’s tree. I got up to look, and sure enough, one was perched up in the top. I don’t usually expect to see those until June.

I have had a fair amount of work to do, so haven’t really taken the time to get out as much as would be nice. Today I did spend a bit more time outside. Later this morning I spent some time pulling up dandelions from part of my yard where I prefer strawberries to grow. When I started getting the dandelions out, there were more strawberries than I had thought – they had just been obscured by all the dandelion leaves. While I was working, Connor spent some time talking to me and spotted a butterfly go by. It appeared to be a Margined White (Pieris marginalis), though I didn’t have a chance to inspect it more closely. We also saw a fly-by of a large, fast moving raptor. We didn’t get a great look at it, though it did appear to have a pale rump (which would be odd either a Peregrine Falcon or Northern Goshawk, which were the two species we thought were most likely – I was leaning towards Peregrine because of the intense continuous wing-beats).

This afternoon I spent some time walking around the park with a friend to see what birds were around. The shorebirds that Connor saw this morning (including Least and Western Sandpipers – first I’ve hard those reported this year) were not present. However, I did catch the song of a Brown Creeper and heard my first Townsend’s Warblers of the year. Much of the Osmorrhiza is actually past blooming already, violets seem to be ramping up (though individuals have been blooming for some time).

After the tour through the park, we went out to check out Starrigavan. It seemed fairly quiet bird-wise on the water, but we did hear more Townsend’s Warblers, saw a couple of Orange-crowned Warblers and a White-crowned Sparrow (and of course heard other species more typical for the season such as Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Varied Thrushes). I had heard a report of a Sooty Grouse hooting out in Starrigavan Valley a week or so ago, so on the off chance that it might be calling we drove out Nelson Logging road. No luck with the grouse.

Late this afternoon I ran into someone who told me about a robin who attacks a picture window in the morning and evening, but apparently no other times of day. Apparently this is the third year in a row that this has happened. My guess is that it’s being territorial, and the timing maybe is due to when the reflections are most strong in the window. This evening I decided to have a fire and burn up some of the junk wood that needs to get taken care of (which meant Connor and Rowan wanted to roast hot dogs and marshmallows, so that was dinner). While out with the fire, I noticed an American Robin acting a bit strange. It was sort of singing, but the song was not very loud, and kind of had thin drawn-out sound to it. If there hadn’t been so much traffic, I probably would have tried to record it. Connor came out and at first thought it was something else because of the posture the bird was in. He said it looked kind of intense. There was a second robin in the tree sitting a bit below. It seemed to be acting more or less normally for a robin. With the higher robin behaving strange, I wondered if maybe it was alarming. It looked like it was staring intently down. I couldn’t quite tell for sure, but it almost appeared to be looking at the other robin. I could almost imagine that the other robin was sort of in a sentinel pose, but I was sure – certainly it was not showing anything like the intensity of the upper one. Eventually the lower robin gave a tut-tut and flew off, after which the upper robin relaxed and then started singing again. My best guess now is that it was a territorial thing, though I don’t know why the one robin was (apparently) so relaxed, and the other so tense without actually chasing the (presumed) intruder.

About matt goff

I am an aspiring naturalist who seeks to learn all that I can about the more-than-human aspects of this place that is my home.
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3 Responses to Returning Rain

  1. Megan Pasternak says:

    Hi Matt, didn’t know where to leave this info but wanted to let you know we had a green wing teal hanging out off and on while we hauled a blackcod set Friday, April 22. It was weird to see a duck so far off shore (about 9 miles from Cape Edgecumbe). His MO was to show up behind the boat, paddle up the starboard side, maybe dive, disappear around the bow and then reappear at the stern a while later.

    We also found a 1/4-inch man-of-war-looking jellyfish on deck. That seemed possibly rare. I plan to contact the current jellyfish scientist-in-residence at Sitka Sound Science Center. I have pictures if you want.

  2. matt goff says:

    Thanks fro the report Megan – interesting that the teal was hanging out with you off shore – maybe he lost his flock.

    Was the little jellyfish think a Velella, By-the-Wind Sailor? (http://jellywatch.org/velella ). I would be interested to hear more about it. If you like, feel free to followup here or in an email (sitkanature@gmail.com). Thanks!

  3. Megan Pasternak says:

    Yes, the jelly fish lady at the science center confirmed it was a velella. I guess others are seeing a few, too.

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