Pine Siskins and Kids

Connor has set up some bird feeders in the yard, and with recent snows they have been popular with the juncos and Pine Siskins. Pine Siskins are fairly aggressive with each other, and bold with humans. Both the kids were able to have one feeding out of their hand. I only got pictures of Rowan with one, but they got video of each other which I will try to post at some point.

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Winter Sun at Totem Park

Bright skies this morning lured me into taking a walk with Connor and Rowan down to Totem Park. However, by the time we were leaving, it seemed to be totally overcast and a light snow was falling. We walked down to Lincoln Street and found things to be pretty quiet, both on land and on the water. As we reached the park, the sun started to break out from behind the clouds, offering hope of a chance to accumulate a bit of sun exposure – something that has been sorely lacking in this significantly wetter than usual December.

By the time we got to the battle site part of the loop, the sun had broken out of the clouds, and it felt noticeably warm standing on the beach where I could get the full effect of the direct sun as well as the strong reflections off the water. I just stood there for a couple of minutes enjoying the warmth before Rowan informed me there were some shorebirds around the corner. Going to investigate, I discovered the wind blowing from the east – though not especially strong – was sufficient to make it feel quite chilly, despite the sun. I later retreated back to the calmer location – having the good excuse that I wanted to try and get some pictures of the redpolls I had seen adjacent to the beach there.

One of the things I’ve been keeping an eye out for is a good representative of Fomitopsis pinicola (one of two or three different species often referred to as Bear’s Bread). Despite it being very common, I have previously only taken pictures of this shelf fungus that were unusual in some way. Today I noticed one growing on a spruce trunk right at the start of the beach-side of the west loop. A little further down the path, I took a picture of the somewhat similar Heterobasidion annosum, as well. This can sometimes form a shelf, and in such cases may look quite similar to the Fomitopsis, but unlike Fomitopsis, it often grows flat, not forming a shelf at all.

Despite there being few birds around, I did see some things of interest. Species-wise, at least a couple of Common Redpolls were working the alders with a handful of Pine Siskins. Redpolls were absent last winter, and this is only the second time I’ve seen any siskins in the past several months. Also of note were at least a couple of Rock Sandpipers in with the Black Turnstones, and a probable Red-tailed Hawk first spotted by Rowan (who told me she saw the red tail – I just saw a brief glimpse of it before it disappeared behind the trees).

While attempting to photograph the siskins and redpolls, I was also treated to some activity of a small group of Barrow’s Goldeneye right near the shore, but I think I’ll post on that separately, as I would like to wrap this up.

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Turning toward Spring

Contrary to forecast, skies over town remained mostly clear through the day. There was a bit of an east wind to make things feel a little cooler, but even so, temperatures warmed up to the low 40s. I was able to find a spot on the south side of a Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) in … Read more