Alaska Blueberry Flower

Just a single observation (and photo) from today – my first Alaska blueberry (Vaccinium alaskaense) flower of the year. I’ve seen early blueberries have been blooming for about a couple of weeks.

It was a full day of calls/work, a conversation for radio, and a talk this evening. With not much sleep last night, I opted for a nap rather than a longer walk around the park.

The pattern of mostly cloudy skies with light winds and occasional drizzle continued.

Connor saw a few Short-billed Dowitchers down at the park, another new species, but so far things seem to just be moving through without spending much time here in town.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Sitka Nature Show #129 – Ellen Chenoweth and Madison Kosma

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The 16 April show featured a conversation with Ellen Chenoweth and Madison Kosma. We talked about the whales in Sitka Sound this winter as well as the project Ellen started and Madison is continuing looking at the interaction of humpback whales with hatchery smolt releases on the east side of Baranof Island.

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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Suddenly Ice Free

Yesterday Swan Lake appeared to be about 90% covered in ice, so I was taken aback to see today it was completely ice free. Now I’m wish I had gone down and looked at the quality/nature of the ice yesterday (and perhaps in the days preceding that). I haven’t ever watched the (d)evolution of ice as it rots out. On the other hand, I have been a little surprised at how long it’s taken the ice to melt, as it has been at least a couple of weeks since we had much in the way of freezing temperatures.

Although winds did not seem as strong overnight as forecast (at least at my place), the buoy had seas to 20 feet this morning. In my outings during the day, I saw it was windier in other places, but the downtown area seemed sheltered from the brunt of the wind.

I took a quick walk around the park this afternoon. I found a moth (second I’ve seen this year – Connor had found one a month ago), and noticed blueberry flowers on a couple of bushes that were almost fully emerged. Some salmonberries also had buds that were getting far along.

A lone Trumpeter Swan at Indian River seems to be all that remains of the 40+ that overwintered along the road system.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Channel Gulls and Yard Plants

A colorful mix of bryophytes colonized soil below a tree I planted last year

Gulls continued in good numbers in the channel. I made a trip to look for anything unusual, and spotted the Slaty-backed Gull that was there yesterday. Once again, I first saw it out in the middle (from the Katlian side), but it moved over to near the ramp shortly after.

This evening I spent some time in the yard doing a little pruning of trees and checking out some of the herbaceous plants that survived the winter as basal rosettes (see iNaturalist observations linked below).

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Sitka Nature Show #128 – Sonia Nagorski

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The April 2nd show featured a conversation with Sonia Nagorski – we talked about the role of black carbon in the environment, and in particular, how it can have a disproportionate effect on the melting of snow and ice. She and other colleagues recently did some preliminary work looking at black carbon on the Juneau Ice field.

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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Lonely Limpet

A lone white cap limpet (Acmaea mitra) stood out on a small rock covered dark with algae in the middle of an expanse of sand. While by no means a large sandy beach, I do not think of limpets as wanders of the sand, and it is easy to imagine the several yards between the small rock outpost and its nearest neighbor as formidable a barrier as many square miles of desert migh be to a human.

Curiosity stokes my imagination.

Perhaps it settled on this rock some months or years ago, scraping algae off the rock, and never venturing more than a few inches from where I found it. Though this sounds confining to me (even as committed a homebody as I am), perhaps this is not so different from the lives of other limpets. I’ve read that some species will return to the exact same spot each tide cycle to wait for a chance to graze under cover water at the next high. I wonder how much space a limpet needs?

Or, maybe this is the adventurous limpet. Perhaps it set off on a journey across the sand, finding this rock where it could rest as it crossed to the other side. Is it the Bilbo Baggins of its kind – heading there and back again?

I can imagine another scenario – where some how this limpet became dislodged from its home rock and pushed too and fro by the waves managed to anchor itself down on this rock, now castaway on a piece of land far from home.

The next time I visit this patch of shore, what will I find (if I even remember to look)? Despite my sense that sandy shores are reasonably stable, I know better. The shifting sands are fickle, and it may be I find no trace of rock or limpet.


I’ve been considering taking some days off from the quest for three new species per day. With 300+ species by the end of March, I’ve accumulated many photos and collections which could use some organizing attention. I know things will start picking up quickly as spring more fully arrives, and without a good system, I know from past experience I will become swamped.

Yesterday’s rain continued into today. I decided that with a -1 ft tide, I would take a look at Magic Island, as the previous low tides I had visited Sage Beach. Chilly rain and a bit of a breeze made conditions a little less than ideal for getting photos, but I did find several things I had not seen yet this year.

It was interesting to note that there were very few gulls in or around the channel, nor could I see any on the park tide flats (when I drove over the bridge) during the low tide this morning. However, there were at least a couple of hundred on the buildings along Katlian Street later in the afternoon during the high tide. It seems likely there has been herring spawning activity somewhere in the area that has drawn the gulls away from town.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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