Downtown Morning Light

Yesterday was quite gray, and I did not take any photos, though with a forecast for some clearing skies, I did decide go to Pioneer Park and collect a couple of the caddisflies that are in the high intertidal seep pools there.

I was not really surprised they were there, but it’s still interesting to me they can survive immersion in salt water and hold on during the wave action that is often present during the fall and winter high tide series. I’ll probably write a little more about them in a stand alone post.

This morning I had breakfast downtown and enjoyed the nice light on the mountains while walking home around an hour after sunrise.

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Northern Pygmy-Owl

Today was heavy overcast with periodic rain, though never too hard. Winds where I was seemed to be light. There was quite a bit of fog hanging over Swan Lake – I’m assuming due to cooling of the saturated air by the ice that remains on the lake.

Kitty needed to collect some mosses, lichens, and ferns for her students to use in lab during the upcoming semester, so I tagged along on the gathering trip.

While we were in the neighborhood of Indian River, I wanted to check out the river flow near the trailhead. My dad had told me that what used to be the main channel was now gravel bars, and the bulk of the water was flowing next to the forest near the trail, while there was another channel on the far side, as well.

Despite knowing what to expect, it was still a little surprising to see the former channel without any water – it’s clear that over the years the river has moved around quite a bit in this area, but for as long as I can remember visiting, the main channel was more or less in the same area with some minor shifting going on, but I don’t think it had ever completely jumped channel so significantly in the past 20+ years.

With conditions not that great, I decided not to take any pictures on this trip, but will probably try to get back there before too long to document it.

On the way in from Starrigavan, Kitty spotted a Northern Pygmy-Owl in the top of a spruce tree at the side of the road. She pulled over and I was able to take a few pictures of it.

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Gavan Hill Trail

Some snow fell overnight on Monday with very light snow during the day yesterday. Based on the forecast, I thought it might change to rain, but the cold held on long enough for it to snow through the night into this morning, resulting in a couple of inches on the ground. By late morning, precipitation was falling as light rain, and the snow was starting to melt from the trees and ground.

Although I was not really feeling inclined to get out, it was time to collect the data from the Gavan Hill ibuttons as well as the ones from Indian River. Originally I had been thinking I wanted to go up Indian River (in part so I could see if the falls fork was frozen, and continue my documentation of water temperatures). However, Rowan preferred to go up Gavan Hill, and my morning had filled up with work, so I opted to go for the Gavan ibuttons today, and instead of walking the whole way, I drove to the Pherson Street trailhead so the round trip would take less time.

Despite my ambivalence about leaving the house at all, once I was out walking it seemed nice. The snow was quite wet, and occasional snow bombs fell from the tree branches as we walked, but in the forest there was not much snow on the ground, and even that was disappearing due to the many water drops coming off the trees.

It’s been some time since I went up a hill, and I was definitely feeling it today. We kept a moderately slow pace, so my breathing wasn’t an issue, but my legs did feel a bit week (even later after I got home).

The forecast is for temperatures to rise up into the 40s by the weekend, so the snow may not last long.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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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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