Spring Insects

Another frosty morning followed by a warm (for the season) sunny day. Connor had an appointment this morning and afterwards he and I stopped by the old airport road to look around for a bit. I briefly saw the Horned Lark and American Pipit that have been around for much of the winter. I did not see the Mountain Bluebird. It’s been a while since I heard any reports of it, so perhaps it has moved on (in one way or the other). Also of note was a singing Ruby-crowned Kinglet. There have been periodic repors of at least one of these throughout the winter, so it’s not cleaer whether this is a newly arrived migrant or an over-wintering bird who is now starting to sing. This afternoon there were at least a couple of dozen American Robins (that I’m guessing are newly arrived migrants) foraging on the ground among the alders between the DOT buildings on Charcoal Island and Mermaid Cove.

This evening I went to a talk about herring fisheries and food culture in Japan. It was pretty interesting. One sobering bit of information was hthe record of herring catches over the past 140 or so years. Even the abundant years of the 1960s had catches that paled in comparison to the late 1800s (when most of the herring was rendered into oil and fish meal which was used for fertilizer).

The moth photos from today are of the ones caught yesterday, as well as one that showed up in the house a couple of days ago. The insect larva was crawling down an alder near old airport road. I suspect it may have been things like it that the chickadees and the kinglet may have been finding and eating as they foraged through the trees and brush.

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Sunny Sunday

It dawned with clear skies this morning. The lack of clouds overnight led to a decent amount of frost, although I don’t think the official temperature dropped below freezing. Once the sun was up, it didn’t take long for the frost to melt off. I’m not sure what the official high ended up being, but I noticed it was at least up to 50F. Winds were down from yesterday, but picked up a bit out of the east as the day went on. They dropped again after sunset.

I got reports of a bunch of robins, so I’m guessing a bunch moved in overnight. Looks like there’s some activity on the radar this evening. I’ll have to check prior years to see if this is early (and I got my radar scripts working again, so will have the archive getting saved going forward).

I was invited to dinner with some folks this evening, and while there saw a couple of moths attracted to the window. They’re the first I’ve seen this year (and it seems a bit early perhaps, though given the warm winter, not really surprising). One was a Tortricid I think, the other may have been an American Angle Shades (Euplexia benesimilis), but I’m not sure.

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Whalefest Food Web Cruise

I can’t quite remember how many of the March Whalefest Food Web cruises I’ve participated in, but I think today might have been my 5th or 6th. The weather wasn’t ideal, certainly not as nice as last year’s cruise. The Allen Marine boat we were in was big enough to be minimally effected by the surface chop from gusty winds associated with rain squalls, but there was a pretty good swell coming in from the south (it was 13 foot seas out at the buoy), and the herring fleet (reduced as it is in this year’s co-op fishery) was set up between Gagarin Island and Kruzof, so it was not super comfortable and we did not stay long before heading back in and spending a little more time in the relatively calm waters of Eastern Channel (where we got our best looks as whales). We did see a nice assortment of marine mammals and birds, so I think people enjoyed the trip, and it’s also nice to be supporting WhaleFest, so I think folks were probably reasonably well satisfied.

This afternoon I headed out again in a much smaller boat with some friends. The hope was to maybe see a California Sea Lion or other interesting birds, but conditions were just not very conducive to seeing much.

I spent a little time sitting on the south porch this evening. I noticed at least one robin (and at times maybe more) that seemed to be engaging in sentinel behavior in the large alders along Biorka Street south of my house. I didn’t realize it when I first sat down, but the neighbor was doing some cooking on an outdoor grill, so I wondered if perhaps that’s what had the robin’s attention.

I forgot to mention the other day, but there was a Fox Sparrow singing in or adjacent to my yard. It was singing again this early evening while I was sitting.

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First Day of Spring

July 2010 Sunset from Hillcrest Drive

The forecast today was not particularly inspiring (100% chance of rain), and I had some work to do, so I didn’t pay too much attention to what was going on outside. By later in the morning I started to wonder about the forecast, as it seemed much brighter than I would have guessed, and no rain had yet fallen. This afternoon turned out to be partly cloudy, with much of the blue sky concentrated over town. There were large gray clouds out over the sound, and my mid afternoon they had moved in and started dropping a pretty good rain. I managed to spend some time out enjoying the sun on the south side of the house. There was a bit of a breeze, but the sun felt very warm.

The birds seem to be dispersing – there are still quite a few juncos around, but just over the last few days the flocks seem to be thinning significantly.

I’ve been continuing to work on the photo backlog (still way too many to go, but steady progress will eventually get me there). The photo with today’s post is from a set I took back on 8 July 2010 and finally got posted on my site this week. It was a rather spectacular sunset that I watched from Hillcrest Drive (where I was living at the time). As an aside, if you’re interested in getting notification when I get these back dated older posts published, you can subscribe to the blog via e-mail over in the sidebar to the right.

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Clear Skies and Migrating Birds(?)

Biorka Island radar showing probable migrating birds on 19 March 2015.

Biorka Island radar showing probable migrating birds on 19 March 2015.

The forecast was for mostly sunny skies this afternoon, but by the time I looked outside this morning, it was already pretty clear out. I had some work to do on a consulting project that kept me inside for the morning. This afternoon I spent some time out checking on some plants (it appears the Astragalus and Oxytropis I brought from the probably-now-flooded Blue Lake Creek gravel bars have survived the winter and are sending out new growth) and laying in the sun.

We’re not really out of the woods yet in terms of cold weather and/or snow, but today was certainly a taste of spring weather (which astronomically doesn’t start until tomorrow).

The herring fishery has started. It’s running as a co-op this year, so none of the craziness that often accompanies the fishery. I haven’t heard of any spawning occurring yet, but it’s sure to start soon.

I was a little surprised to see how strong a signal of apparently migrating there was on the radar. It seems a little early for such a strong movement, but it has been warm this year. Unfortunately, my scripts for automatically archiving the radar images have been non-functional for a while (now I’m freshly motivated to try and get them running again), so I can’t go back and look (unless there’s an on-line archive somewhere) to see if there has been early evidence of migration. Unlike later season migration, there’s a lot more movement further offshore than I usually see (if I’m remembering correctly).

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Singing Robins

I didn’t spend too much time outside today. It was a relatively warm and calm day, with forecast rain holding off until this evening (what I read this morning suggested it would start raining after 1pm, and perhaps it did elsewhere in the area, I didn’t check the radar).

While I was sitting outside this evening, I noticed several robins singing. It wasn’t full on territorial singing (or at least I don’t think it was), but it made me wonder if some migrants have started to come in, or if it’s just the wintering birds that are getting more serious about tuning up their vocal cords. It’s the first time I remember hearing them.

I did go up to Kimsham fields to see about playing ultimate. Not enough people showed up to play, so we just tossed the disc around for a while. It was interesting to hear Varied Thrushes singing both near and far. I haven’t really been hearing them much in my neighborhood.

I put some old shredded paper and stuff where it looks like a cat has been using one of my planters as a bed. Will be interesting to see if that discourages it.

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