Kamenoi Beach

On this second (and final) weekend of my dad’s visit up here, we all had the opportunity to go with a friend to Kruzof Island. Rowan and I planned to sit on the beach and relax while the others went hunting.

(more to come…)
[ANHU, RCKI, tracks, other group, warm, fire, berries, calm, whale, shadow frost, flies, flicker, rBSA, swells, swamped]

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Continuing Sun

Sunny and calm weather continued. Frost has really built up in the shady areas, but air temperatures are not especially cold during the day.

Although my day was fairly full, I did take a few minutes between lunch and the class at the Middle School to ride by where the mockingbird has been hanging out. I didn’t really intend to stop, but when I arrived, I saw it sitting on the fence in a different location than I had seen previously. This new spot made a better angle for getting pictures, so I took the opportunity to get one. While I was doing that, I thought I heard Trumpeter Swans. Looking up, I saw a loan swan headed south. A few minutes later a flock of 40-50 flew overhead as well. I’m not sure why the one swan was by itself.

The lake was almost entirely frozen today, though there were still quite a few ducks around. I got a report that the Marbled Godwit is still down at the Turnaround, extending its late date for the state record.

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Late Fall Birds

Another sunny day with heavy frost but not overly cold overnight temperatures warming to around 40 during the day. A little before lunch Rowan went to check the mail and mentioned when she got back that she wished she had taken her camera (the mailbox is across the street). She said a different bird had perched in a place she could have gotten a good picture. It was one she was pretty sure she had seen before, but wasn’t sure what it was (she thought maybe a flycatcher). After talking to her a bit more, I suspect a Yellow-rumped Warbler, but wasn’t really sure. She said it had flown across over towards Degroff Street. So she and I walked over that way to see if we could spot it.

We ended up walking all the way to Swan Lake without seeing the mystery bird, though we did see a Red-breasted Sapsucker working on a spruce tree. Swan Lake was about two thirds frozen, so it was a little easier to see what birds were still on the lake. In addition to the usual suspects, a Green-winged Teal, at least one Northern Shoveler, a juvenile (Trumpeter?) Swan, only one American Coot (I saw a couple yesterday). A Savannah Sparrow chipped at us for a while when it was disturbed from foraging on the peninisula.

On the way back we saw a warbler-looking bird fly across in front of us. It was near the end of Degroff Street and it flew over Hoffman’s house before we got a good luck. We followed it around only to have it fly back to the Degroff side. Finally we were able to get some good looks and photos. A Yellow Warbler, Rowan said she was pretty sure this bird was the one she had seen while checking the mail. It sounds like this one will be the second latest date on record for the state – although it appears Marge/Tedin’s notes have a mid-November record that may not be more widely known.

I got a note that the Marbled Godwit is still here.

This evening’s sunset was pretty colorful (based on the facebook pictures I saw), but I only saw it reflected on the snow covered mountains while I was teaching class at UAS.

When we were walking out of UAS after a talk this evening, Rowan pointed out a moth on the door. It’s the first winter moth (aka Bruce spanworm) (Operophtera bruceata) I’ve seen this year, though I also haven’t really been looking.

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Anna’s Hummingbirds


Late October Anna’s Hummingbird silhouetted against a bright sky

For over a year now, Anna’s Hummingbirds seem to have been continuously present in at least some Sitka neighborhoods. They are easier to overlook when plenty of Rufous Hummingbirds are keeping the feeders busy, but as the more abundant species returns south, it becomes clear that Anna’s Hummingbirds are around. I know of at least four different feeders where at least one (and in some cases 2 or 3) hummingbirds are continuing to visit regularly. I do not know how many birds this represents, as some of the feeders are close enough it seems fairly likely that the same bird is visiting multiple feeders.

On a late September walk I was a little surprised to hear the distinctive sounds of an Anna’s Hummingbird signing(? – I’m not really sure if it’s a song or not, but I don’t know what else to call it). I heard it again late in October on the corner of Degroff and Baranof Street and was able to catch one perched in a nearby tree for the photo that goes along with tihs post.

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Anna’s Hummingbird off Lower Gavan Trail

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Anna’s Hummingbird off of Lower Gavan Trail

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Late Fall Shorebirds

In a very busy Tuesday, I took a couple of minutes to stop down at the True Value parking lot to check on our late fall shorebirds. I believe the prior late date for a Marbled Godwit was one that was here in Sitka until 8 November 2012, so this is now several days later. Dunlin, on the other hand, are known to winter in Southeast Alaska, but for some reason it’s unusual to see them in Sitka during the fall and winter (although they are common spring migrants).

The high pressure with moderate (for the season) temperatures in the low-40s during the day and frosty nights down to around 30 continue.

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Mystery Spot

While going through the photos of a Red Phalarope from a few days ago, I notice an odd spot in one of the photos. I was curious about it, as it almost appears to be something in or on the water. I think it’s more likely to be some sort of lens flare artifact, although it doesn’t really look like ones I’m used to seeing. (In this case the sun was behind me and I was in shade, but there were buildings and/or perhaps waves on the water that could have reflected bright light back towards me.) It only showed up in this one photo. If you have a good explanation for it, I would be happy to hear about it in the comements!

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