Raven Radio Show #90 – John Hudson

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The 4 October show featured a conversation with John Hudson, who was in town as part of the Scientist in the Schools program at the Sitka Sound Science Center. In additions to working with fourth graders, he also led a public walk for the community.

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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Stormy Update

I’ve been a little quiet here recently. It’s been due to a mixture of things, including some busy times with work, a head cold that laid me out, and finally my main computer (and the one I process pictures on) dying late last week. I think work will (hopefully) stabilize, the cold has mostly run its course, and the computer was under warranty (though it will take a week or two before I get it back), so I’ll try to get back to posting more regularly soon.

I was inspired this evening by the sound of rain hitting the windows and doors on the south side of my house. Looking at the current weather conditions, I see it it’s blowing out of the south at 20-25 with gusts near 40mph. We’re currently in a flood warning through tomorrow, but so far rain hasn’t really been steady enough to really get the river rising. Stepping outside, it feels surprisingly warm. The temperature is currently (at 9:30pm) 55F, so warm for this time of year, especially at night. Looking at the satellite imagery, it’s not hard to see where this warmth is coming from, as a band of clouds extends starting well to the southwest of here is pushing up through our region. It’s interesting to also see the mostly clear skies behind this weather front (seemingly wrapping around the same low pressure center, if I’m understanding correctly), which maybe will be the source of the sunny weather forecast for later in the week extending into next week. It’s been a wet month (over 16 inches so far, and given the current conditions, we’ll likely get over 17 before all is said and done – this compared to the average of 11.38 inches for the month), and the last day that rated as partly cloudy was back on the 8th (I’m sure I’ve seen some sun since then, however).

With heavy clouds like we’ve seen lately, the reduction in daylight hours has been almost startling. Of course we’ve passed the equinox, so we’re getting fewer than 12 hours of daylight anyway, but when it seems like dusk is starting nearly an hour before the schedule sunset time, it sure enhances the sense of shortening days.

Bird-wise, the waterfowl have started to move through in greater numbers. A flock of Snow Geese was reported by at least a couple of people flying low along the shoreline of the road system. Connor chased them down as far as he could follow, but lost site of them when he had to walk the trails at Totem Park.

Other interesting birds include a Black-headed Grosbeak that was first reported over the weekend, and a Western Tanager out near SeaMart that was present for at least two days. I was able to see the grosbeak (my third), but not the tanager (still haven’t seen that one, though this was at least my third attempt to follow up on a report).

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Raven Radio Show #89 – Noah Siegel and Alissa Allen

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The 20 September show featured a conversation with Noah Siegel and Alissa Allen, who were in town to give a talk on mushrooms (Noah) and do a mycopigment workshop (Alissa). Perhaps unsurprisingly, our conversation focused on fungi-related subjects.

Noah is coauthor of a soon to be published book Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast and Alissa regularly teaches mycopigment workshops around the country.

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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Fungi and More along Lower Gavan Trail(s)

After yesterday’s strong winds and soaking rain (4.37 inches at the airport), it was nice to get up and find calm conditions with a light overcast that even had a couple of minor patches of blue showing through. I don’t know that I would say it ever actually got sunny, but the clouds were thin enough that it was possible to feel the warmth of the sun directly at times.

After teaching class this morning and getting a couple of pressing things done for my other work, I caught up with Noah, Alissa, and Kitty who were looking for fungi off of the lower Gavan trail. This was the first time I had been up there since all of the boardwalk and such on the old trail had been removed, and it was much less convenient to get to some of the places that have had a nice diversity of mushrooms in the past not far off the trail. The bigger issue is that this seems to be a relatively poor fall for mushroom fruiting (whether they fruited earlier, or not at all so far, I’m not sure). We eventually made it to the Cross trail, explored around off that a little bit in the older growth stuff (also lacking in mushrooms) and then walked along the Cross trail towards the high school. We saw where the new connector trail from Baranof Street and Pherson street trailheads will come in. It’s not yet completed, but we made our way through the relatively short section of felled trees marking the trail route (it appears these are used as a base, covered with geofabric, then shot rock and finally topped with D1 gravel). Before long we found the end of the current shot rock work, and from there the walking was easy. No one was working on it today, so we didn’t have to do any side trips to avoid the construction.

I was a little surprised to see some pink salmon in a very small streamlet (maybe a couple of feet across). Perhaps recent high water allowed them to access areas that normally would be blocked. I am pretty sure this stream ultimately drains into Peterson Creek, but it might be interesting to follow it down. I have my doubts about how successful these salmon will be in reproducing, as the stream bottom appeared to be mud/organic rather than the sand and gravel it seems like the eggs need to develop well.

On the bird side of things there were several Steller’s Jays around, and I also heard an Anna’s Hummingbird at one point while I was up there. I am not sure if it was the same bird that is regularly visiting a feeder here at the house. Connor successfully got the Steller’s Jay that’s being flying through our neighborhood to realize he had peanuts to offer. Previous attempts at leaving them on the deck rail to be found by the jay were thwarted by crows.

(more photos to come)

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Heavy Rain

By the time a new day begins, it looks like over 4 inches of rain will have fallen at the airport in the 24 hours making up this calendar date. Over 3 inches of it had fallen by 2pm, causing Indian River to swell, but nowhere near what happened during the intense rain which caused the landslides last month. One of these days maybe I’ll sit down and do some back-of-the-envelope math approximations to get an idea of how much water needs to flow out of Indian River to keep up with different rainfall rates, but it is interesting to me how much rain can fall without actually make the river flood (even though levels rise up significantly).

I spent very little time outside today, between classes, calls for work, and recording a conversation for a future radio show, I just had a chance to look around briefly as I was moving between locations. I did stop by Indian River briefly this afternoon and the levels were near flood stage. From the stream gauge I could see the water rose another few inches later in the day, but I’m not yet sure how high. The current forecast for tomorrow is a much lower chance of rain with cloud covers below 100%, so I imagine the water levels will drop significantly once the heaviest of the rain stops late tonight (unless the forecast is wrong, of course).

Connor reported seeing a Townsend’s Warbler today. It seems like it’s getting on towards the end of their time here, though it’s by no means a late date for them. I’ve been seeing at least one male Anna’s Hummingbird and another (probably Anna’s) hummingbird visit the feeder regularly. The junco flock continues to grow, and Connor let me know he saw both White-crowned Sparrow and Golden-crowned Sparrow juveniles visiting the yard.

This afternoon I was able to speak with Noah Siegel and Alissa Allen and record a conversation for an upcoming show. Noah is in town to give a talk (which took place this evening) and Alissa will do a mycopigment workshop this weekend. The talk was about fungi of Alaska and I found it pretty interesting. It was also pretty fascinating to see how many different colors various mushrooms could dye wool or silk. Another tidbit of information I learned (that I don’t want to forget) is that the fungal species in a forest can be very different as forests go from young growth to old growth. I think it would be interesting to learn more about that.

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Rain Begins

The overcast this morning was thin, and there were some interesting patterns in the clouds. In particular I noticed what appeared to be a set of parallel waves off over Crescent Bay and Eastern Channel. However, by the time I got to a place where I could take a reasonable photo, the formation did not stand out quite as much.

This afternoon the rain started. It’s forecast to set rainfall records for the date over the next couple of days, so it could be pretty wet. As of this evening it still has not rained hard, but the radar suggests it will be coming soon.

What follows are some links I’ve found interesting recently:

First is an article at the ADF&G website about the deer on Baranof Island. It talks in part about the population recovery around Sitka and on Chichagof Island after some high mortality winters a few years ago. It also discusses some of what is being learned from several deer that have been radio collared around Sitka.

Sitka landslide in Alaska – the potential power of simple geomorphic mapping is an interesting article on the American Geophysical Union blog that provides an overview of what happened, and suggests geomorphic mapping may be a valuable tool for looking at the potential for future slides (and hopefully avoiding the destruction of life and property that occurred here).

1.5m resolution satellite imagery of the Kramer Avenue slide

Press release from the NSF about recent work on a possible site where survivors from the wreck of the Neva camped for a time on Kruzof Island

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