Evening Light

Much of the day it rained. I had plenty of work to do today, so I mostly just watched the birds through the windows. It seems as though the junco flock is growing in size. I also noticed several warblers. It was interesting to me that they seemed to frequent the potato plants.

This evening around the time the sun was setting the clouds broke to the west. Rain was still falling over the house, and I was able to see part of a bright rainbow to the east – I saw some others had some nice shots of the full arc from other locations in town. It’s always nice to get the gift of that kind of light after a day of rain. I spent a short time right around sunset and drove out to Sandy Beach to take some pictures of the nice color in the sky.

(more photos to come)

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Leaf Miner

Last week on a walk, I noticed a foamflower (Tiarella trifoliata) leaf with some leaf miner sign. A closer look revealed the pupa still in the leaf, so I collected it to see if perhaps I could learn what the miner was when the adult emerged. It’s late enough in the season, it seems like it might be spring before it emerges, but I don’t really know. Foamflower leaves are often winter green, so if it does stay the winter in that form, it would need to be able to withstand freezing in a way that it probably wouldn’t if it found a place to hide as an adult in/under the forest duff layer. I know at least three groups of insects have leaf mining species, beetles, moths, and flies. I suspect this is a fly, however.

A short post today, as I’ve had a fairly full day spending time trying to get through projects for work that I didn’t manage to get done during the week with the start of the school semester. I did spend some time outside this afternoon playing ultimate up at the Kimsham soccer field. Although it rained off and on throughout the day, it was nice that it didn’t rain on us while we were playing. Winds were very calm up there and at the house. I’m not sure what they were like out on the water.

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Rain Avoided

Rain on the roof last night as I went to sleep seemed like a portent of heavy rains today, given the forecast. However, I woke this morning to quiet. When I looked outside, it was cloudy, but whatever rain had fallen overnight had soaked into the ground or evaporated, as things seemed to be relatively dry. As the day went on, the overcast broke up and we were treated to partly sunny skies for much of the afternoon and evening.

Connor, Rowan and I got some chicken at SeaMart and ate it on the beach out at Starrigavan. With the sun shining, I wasn’t feeling too motivated to get back home right away, so Connor and Rowan decided to walk around the estuary trail while I relaxed on the beach. It didn’t take long for the activity of birds to get my attention – a couple of Orange-crowned Warblers were flitting along the shrubs between the beach and the road.

I decided to get up and move to the other side of the road where I could sit and face the estuary. With only occasional cars driving by, it was a relatively peaceful place to sit and watch. One of the things I hoped for while sitting there was to catch a kingfisher hovering. Just after I sat down (but before I had taken my camera out), I saw one hovering over the estuary pool. That bird stayed in the area for the entire time (maybe about an hour) that I sat watching. It made a couple of forays out to the water where it dove in to try and grab a bite, but I did not see it hover again until I had just put my camera away in preparation to leave.

During the time I was watching, I saw 3 Great Blue Herons. The first one that flew in appeared to be a young bird. After it had been there a little while, a second (older seeming to me) one flew in and actually appeared to harass the first bird. Three or four times I saw it fly over to where the first bird had landed, and the first one would take off and fly away. There was never any direct contact that I saw, but it did seem like the first bird was intimidated.

Quite a few warblers, both Orange-crowned and Yellow were working the shrubs and trees around the edge of the estuary.

Connor and Rowan saw a hawk, they thought probably a red-tail, briefly while they were up on the board walk at the upper edge of the estuary.

We saw a Merlin fly up to a tree near Baranof School when we were headed out early this afternoon. Connor had seen one this morning over by the airport when he went there to look around. I also got a report from someone else who saw what he thought was a Merlin chasing and being chased by crows down by Crescent Harbor this morning.

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Overcast Before the Rain

I headed out to class at 8 this morning under uniform overcast skies. The cloud deck was high enough that none of the mountains were obscured, though an interesting pile of clouds was draped over Mt. Edgecumbe throughout the day. As far as I could tell, no rain fell in town throughout the day, though I’m curious if it was falling from the clouds over Mt. Edgecumbe and Kruzof. The radar has apparently been down (or at least its imagery is not getting out to the internet) all day, so I couldn’t use it to try and check. Winds were calm when I was out and about. As I write this, I can hear rain hitting the roof. It’s supposed to rain pretty hard later tonight and into tomorrow.

My primary outside time was a walk around Totem Park this afternoon, then a drive out the road this evening. I was interested to see a sea otter close to shore at the Sea Mart parking lot. I’ve seen them around there before, though a bit further off. This sea otter was diving down and getting food, but all I could see in the pictures was vegetation (algae and/or surf grass). I don’t think that’s what it was eating, but I’m not sure what it might have been.

(pictures to come)

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Termination Dust

This morning marked the first class of the fall semester for me. Unlike past semesters when my classes were stacked up to make very busy Tuesdays and Thursdays, I will be teaching Tuesday through Friday from 8am-10am. It’s still two classes, but for various reasons the schedule worked out this way. It will take a little while to get used tot he relatively early (for me) start time, but I think in the end the regularity across days will probably help facilitate a more consistently productive schedule for me. Reflecting back on the last 2+ months of few and far between updates, it’s been kind of a busy summer. I picked up some new work that I can do from home, but getting up to speed on that has taken a significant amount of attention. In part due to that (as well as copious amounts of rain being a little demotivating at times) I’ve not gotten out quite as much as I imagine I would have liked to. Still, I did get out at times, and have quite a few pictures to process and upload, so over the coming months I hope to get that taken care of (if you want to make sure not miss backdated posts, you can subscribe to e-mails by entering your address on the right).

On Sunday the clouds were low and rain was quite heavy at times. Temperatures were in the lower 50s, but it didn’t seem especially cold, so I was a little surprised when I saw someone post on Facebook that there was snow down on Bear Mountain. I went out to try and see for myself, but could not see anything through the low-hanging clouds. I tried again on Monday when there were periodic showers instead of the more constant heavy overcast, but my timing was not good, and I didn’t manage to catch the full extent.

Today dawned clear, and the snow from over the weekend was still on mountains over about 4000 feet. I enjoyed the warmth of the sun while working on the south deck this afternoon. Clouds were few and far between, but a bit of a breeze picked up – it seemed to me to be coming mostly from the east, though I’m not sure how much that was influenced by where I was sitting.

Juncos definitely seem to be flocking up more in the neighborhood. I noticed a small flock of maybe a dozen flying through the big pine tree towards the northeast as the evening wore on.

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Rainy Day with Termination Dust

After no success yesterday when I tried to get a photo of the new snow on Bear Mountain (which I had seen reported on Facebook), I made another attempt today. Conditions were more variable, with large squalls moving through bringing heavy rain, but the sun also shown occasionally. Unfortunately, it was difficult to predict when the clouds would move off a mountain, and for the most part I did not guess well. I made a morning trip out to Silver Bay and found Bear Mountain obscured, but saw Clarence Kramer Peak showing a nice bit of new snow. Unfortunately, by the time I made it back to where I could park and walk down the trail to get a picture, the clouds had moved in again. I was interested to see the thin white ribbons of cascades pouring down the upper slopes of Bear Mountain (on the Medvejie side).

This afternoon I walked downtown with Connor and Rowan to do some errands and saw Bear Mountain was clear. I grabbed a shot of it as well as what was showing of the unnamed 4900+ peak behind the Sisters. By the time we were done with our errands, the clouds had moved back over, so I was glad to capture what I did.

I can’t remember seeing termination dust on the peaks quite so early before. My recollection is that I’ve usually noticed the first snow on the mountains around the last week of September, and that is usually still not much lower than 4000 feet. The snow level had risen today – I would guess it was may around 3900 feet or so. The photos I saw yesterday seemed to have snow down cloer to 3500 feet, and maybe a little less. Given the strong El Nino, it’s been my impression that we could expect a relatively warm fall and winter, so it was interesting to have snow appear so early. I guess last winter was so anomalously warm that perhaps this ‘warmer than normal’ El Nino year will still be a more typical winter than we had last year.

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