Sitka Nature Show #132 – Richard Nelson

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The May 28th show featured a conversation with Richard Nelson (conversation starts at about 1:45). We listened to recordings of birds we had recorded, and puzzled over some of the mysterious vocalizations and variations in song that can sometimes be heard.

If you have any mystery recordings of birds (or other creatures) that you’ve recorded in Southeast Alaska, I would love to hear them!

If you have questions or observations you want to share, please feel free to leave a comment here or on the page I’ve set up for that purpose.

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Spring Birding and Flowers

I was hoping today’s forecast for light winds held up, but it did not work out that way. Although it was by no means stormy, there was a bit of a swell coming in and enough wind to lift up a chop on top of that. With cool temperatures and rain, it did not turn out to be the best day for a boat ride. Originally hoping for a trip to Low Island, Kitty and I headed out in her skiff, but quickly opted for a second choice of heading towards Port Krestof upon encountering the swell near the airport. On the slow trip through the channel, we saw a late Long-tailed Duck and quite a few gulls (with one Black-legged Kittiwake).

By the time we got out in the vicinity of the Chaicheis, it was clear the breeze had picked up a bit – perhaps as part of a minor rain squall. We considered going to shore at the Chaicheis, but there did not seem like an obvious nice wind-sheltered spot to anchor, and with the generally suboptimal conditions, it seemed better to head back to land.

We did look around a bit for birds, but did not see much (Hudsonian Godwit was still at the turnaround), and stopped by Pioneer Park hoping to find the shoreline shootingstar (Dodecatheon pulchellum) blooming. I had checked it last weekend, but just a few flower buds were showing with no blooms, and I was happy to find a few of them in flower this week. This species seems to limited to on some of the rocky shores around Sitka and I think Pioneer Park might be the only place I’ve noticed it growing along the road system.

Somewhat less showy were the flowers of two different sedges also growing at the upper edge of the shoreline.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Sitka Nature Show #131 – Alan Verde

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The May 14th show featured a conversation with Alan Verde, who is in town as a Scientist in Residence at the Sitka Sound Science Center. We spoke about sea anemones (with a little bit about other cnidarians mixed in), with a focus on Anthopleura elegantissima, a species with some interesting traits that he studies (and hopes to find in the Sitka area).

If you have questions or observations you want to share, please feel free to leave a comment here or on the page I’ve set up for that purpose.

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Misty Morning

Sometimes the atmosphere lays heavy on the land and water. Cool, still air, heavy with humidity combines with the low hanging shape-obscuring and color-muting clouds to create an almost dream-like feeling where everything seems far away. Even nearby activity takes on the muffled sound of distance. While these conditions probably do occur at other times of day and year, I tend to associate them mostly with spring mornings like today’s.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Milder than Forecast

Although Sunday is often a day I try to get out a bit farther away from home, the forecast was for rain and wind, so I didn’t plan to do much. As it turned out, the wind seemed pretty light around town (as well as where I could see on the water). Only the lightest of sprinkles fell until the early evening, when a steadier rain started.

A walk around the park this morning did not reveal any new moths or birds.

At Halibut Point Rec there was an uncooperative Spotted Sandpiper, but little else in the way of shorebirds. I think I heard a crossbill, but it landed high in a spruce tree, obscured by the canopy.

Later in the afternoon, I made a little trip to Pioneer Park to check on the shooting stars (Dodecatheon pulchellum). They are fairly common in certain sorts of rocky shoreline habitats in the greater area, but the only place I know where they are easily accessible on the road system is at Pioneer Park. There were some with obvious flower buds, but none were open yet.

I was a little surprised to see a western dock growing among the rocks of the shoreline. It is another one that’s fairly common in the Sitka area at certain locations near the shore, but seems to be relatively scarce along the road system. (I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it at Starrigavan in the estuary, but can’t think of any other places).

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Shorebird Comings and Goings

I went down to the park a little before 8 this morning to check for moths and see what shorebirds might be around. It seemed pretty quiet while I was there, especially out on the beach. However, I ran into some others who reported seeing a Black-bellied Plover out on the flats (where I had been a little while before them, and not seen anything).

Within the next hour or so, additional Black-bellied Plovers arrived, as did a Red Knot and at least a couple of Pacific Golden-Plovers. I probably wouldn’t have known this until too late, except Connor had gone down there, done some of his own looking, and then joined up with a morning bird walk that was taking place.

He let me know about the Golden-Plovers and the Red Knot, which prompted me to take another trip down to see and photograph them.

Later in the day, I went back down again with a friend, and we did not see the Golden-Plovers, nor the Red Knot. We did, however, find a small Oysterleaf (Mertensia maritima) growing in the gravel and roots of a washed up tree. It’s the first I’ve seen in the park.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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