Colorful Sunset, Crescent Moon

Enough snow fell overnight to cover everything in a clean layer of white, and muffle the sounds. I suspect there was as much traffic as usual driving by my house this morning as I was waking up, but it seemed quieter than usual.

Clouds were breaking up and blue skies expanding just after 9am this morning. I was walking towards the harbor from downtown and tempted to stop and take pictures of the morning light on the unnamed peak behind the Sisters, but was also on a call for work, so decided to just enjoy the golden light on the snow covered peaks in the moment and not take the time to get my camera out and try to get a picture.

It would have been a nice day to look for animal tracks, but I had plenty of things to work on, and did not get out again until Connor mentioned there was some pink in the sky shortly after the sun had set. I had noticed a layer of clouds towards the south and west earlier, and assumed they went to the horizon and were thick enough that there would not be much of a sunset. I turned out to be wrong about that and stepped outside to enjoy (and take a few photos) of a very colorful sunset that seemed to stretch from the south all the way to the west.

Not only was the sunset colorful, but there was a thumbnail crescent moon high enough in the sky to escape the warm colors of the sunset as it slowly increased in relative brightness as the blue sky faded slowly to purple and black.

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Bird’s Nest Fungus Collection

I was a little surprised to look outside at first light and see that it was cloudy. The last I had looked at the forecast, it called for sunny skies to continue, but the new forecast today was calling for a chance of snow today and tonight, with clear skies returning tomorrow.

It did end up snowing a little bit during the day, but only just enough to cover the ground.

I spent some time this evening photographing a collection I had gathered last month of a bird’s nest fungus (Crucibulum sp) that was new to me. There seems to be some disagreement about the name – apparently the most commonly used name (C. laeve) is invalid, but many still use it anyway. According to Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast, the better name would be C. crucibuliforme.

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Sitka Nature Show #175 – Nicole Koeltzow

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The January 6th show featured a conversation with Nicole Koeltzow, who was in town to see the Rustic Bunting as part of her 2018 ABA big year. Nicole’s Facebook page for her big year.

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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New Year Birds

Clear conditions persisted overnight into today, resulting in a very frosty morning.

I took some time today to go look for more of the unusual birds that have stuck around into the new year.

I arrived at the location the Rustic Bunting has been frequenting, and was a little surprised to see it moments after I arrived. Unfortunately, I was not really ready for it, and during the time it took me to get my binoculars and camera out, it disappeared.

I ended up waiting for most of an hour before it returned. I passed the time in part by photographing other species visiting the feeders (more photos of those can be seen with the iNaturalist observations linked below).

The Rustic Bunting seems to be significantly more wary than most of the other birds, taking it’s time, stopping to watch and wait multiple times before finally dropping down to the ground where food was (but even then, it stayed behind the barriers in a more protected spot on the ground, rather than feeding directly from the feeders where there was more abundant food). When it had appeared shortly after my arrival, I suspect my rummaging around actually prompted it to leave again.

From there I went to Swan Lake, where only a small opening remained near the peninsula. With freezing temperatures forecast to continue into next week, there is a good chance the coots won’t be around much longer.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Trumpeters on Swan Lake

Skies cleared more overnight, leading to a frosty cool morning with some patchy fog that dissipated further as the day went on.

I had errands to run this afternoon, so while I was out made a quick stop to see if the Rustic Bunting might be easy to see (it wasn’t), then went by Swan Lake to see about the coots. I think they are still around, but did not see them during my brief stop.

A large family of swans was at the lake, with two adults and 5 juvenile birds. It made me wonder if all the juveniles were hatched out together, or if one (or more) was adopted later.

The new year provides a somewhat arbitrary, but still convenient way to let go of the backlog of photos and blog posts I’ve been intending to work on and ‘start over’ fresh (though I still intend to go back and post the photos and at least short blog posts to go with them). For some technical and organizational reasons, I needed to take care of a few blogs from the past couple of months before posting anything from this year. Over the past few days I’ve been working on those (they are written, but remain as drafts for the moment), and today finally finished them. Based on the number of posts showing up on ‘this day in blog history’ so far this year, it looks like I’ve often entered the new year with some energy for blogging, but that fades as day length increases, I spend more time outside, and photos begin to pile up.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Swamp Sparrow

With brighter conditions today, I made an effort to get out and look for the Swamp Sparrow that had been found along Price Street during the Christmas Bird Count which Connor had also seen earlier in the day.

I brought Rowan along, and we didn’t have any trouble finding the sparrow foraging in some vegetation next to the ditch along the road. While we were there, a Yellow-rumped Warbler and at least a couple of Song Sparrows also made an appearance.

I made a quick check along Eagle Way to see if the Palm Warbler seen during the count last Saturday might be around, but I did not find it.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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