Corona

Overcast skies this morning gave way to mostly clear skies by noon. As the day went on, some clouds moved through, including a layer of what I think was altostratus clouds seen in these photos. It was not a thick layer of clouds, and they were too bright to look at directly in the neighborhood of the sun even when the sun was blocked out. I was wearing a pair of sunglasses to make it easier on my eyes while I was reading papers outside and I happened to glance up and notice the colored rings around the sun showing in the clouds. I didn’t remember noticing this before, but after doing bit of research I found out that a corona around the sun is one of the most common atmospheric phenomena. Although they are fairly common, they tend to be overlooked because the sun (and sunlit clouds) are too bright to look at. It is easier to observe a corona around a full moon, but since the moon is much less bright than the sun, it is quite unlikely to see multiple rings such as I saw today.

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Sunset and Stars

Another clear day and night. As I write this, temperatures have dropped to 8F after reaching a high of only 14F. It seems unlikely we’ll reach a record low for this date (7F in 1971), but perhaps we’ll match or break the record low for tomorrow (8F in 1969) before temperatures warm up for the day. Fortunately winds have been calm around the house, so it hasn’t felt too bad.

The view of Orion from the south side of the house inspired me to brave the cold for a couple of minutes to take some pictures.

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Birds and Sunlight

I had intended to take a short walk down to Totem Park to check if any shorebirds were out that way and hopefully find a Rock Sandpiper – a species which I know is around, but had not been seen during yesterdays bird count. It didn’t quite work out that way, but that was because there were interesting things to be observing.

First up was a Western Screech Owl on Etolin Street – the first I’ve seen in daylight, and only about the third time I’ve actually seen one at all (though I’ve heard them many times).

Then down at the park I got distracted by conversation with a couple of different people – heard some interesting things about the goings-on of birds an other animals. Including ducks at Totem Park and Sea Otters out at Halibut Point Rec. (In one of the videos [update: no longer available] made by one of the people I was talking to – there is part of it you can observed Mallards working over the cobbles in Indian River for food, as well as seeing a Common Merganser try and come in to steal some bites – at least that’s what I think is going on.)

While out on the flats looking for the shorebirds, I looked up as the gulls and crows went into a bird plow. Spotted an eagle with something in its talons flying my way.

There was an odd duck out in the bay in front of Indian River mouth – too far away to get a very good look at. Also lots of birds out from Jamestown Bay, too far to identify as well.

Finally I started back home and then spent more time watching and photographing the owl, as well as showing some other passers-by.

The whole time there were interesting atmospheric displays as the clouds were breaking up in front of the sun.

In the end it was a fairly full day wandering around, seeing the sights, and then editing the photos later. I think the owl and eagle photos deserve their own post. The photos are in the album here, but I think I’ll write a separate post in the next couple of days to tell those stories a little better.

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