Sitka Nature https://www.sitkanature.org On a Lifelong Journey to Learn my Place Tue, 16 Jan 2024 05:15:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.4.3 https://i0.wp.com/www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/cropped-raven_trees_watermark_8.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Sitka Nature https://www.sitkanature.org 32 32 20990835 Sitka Nature Show #305 – Paul and Brooke https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/12/31/sitka-nature-show-305-paul-and-brooke/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/12/31/sitka-nature-show-305-paul-and-brooke/#respond Mon, 01 Jan 2024 00:00:55 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=64601 Download Radio Show The December 31st show featured a conversation with Paul Norwood and Brooke Schafer. The Sitka Nature Show ended the year as it began. Paul and Brooke shared about some of their experiences from the last year, including learning to scuba dive, and further travels and explorations around Southeast Alaska. The Anatomy of ... Read more

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The December 31st show featured a conversation with Paul Norwood and Brooke Schafer. The Sitka Nature Show ended the year as it began. Paul and Brooke shared about some of their experiences from the last year, including learning to scuba dive, and further travels and explorations around Southeast Alaska.

The Anatomy of a Wolf Den Site: A Field Report

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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Sitka Nature Show #304 – Bill Foster (encore) https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/12/17/sitka-nature-show-304-bill-foster-encore/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/12/17/sitka-nature-show-304-bill-foster-encore/#respond Mon, 18 Dec 2023 00:00:51 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=64600 Download Radio Show The December 17th show featured a conversation with Bill Foster, who passed away in November. Bill was a guest several times during the early years of my show, and the conversation featured in this show is one I recorded with him in 2014. As was often the case in my conversations with ... Read more

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The December 17th show featured a conversation with Bill Foster, who passed away in November. Bill was a guest several times during the early years of my show, and the conversation featured in this show is one I recorded with him in 2014. As was often the case in my conversations with him, we wandered a bit but inevitably came around to birds, birding, and birders. Bill also was an enthusiastic supporter and user of Sitka trails, and we spent the last part of the conversation talking about our experiences on the trails around Sitka.

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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Sitka Nature Show #303 – Jen Cedarleaf and Kitty LaBounty https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/12/02/sitka-nature-show-303-jen-cedarleaf-and-kitty-labounty/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/12/02/sitka-nature-show-303-jen-cedarleaf-and-kitty-labounty/#respond Sun, 03 Dec 2023 00:00:46 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=64599 Download Radio Show The December 2nd show featured a conversation with Jen Cedarleaf and Kitty LaBounty, we talked the Christmas Bird Count in Sitka (present and past), and more generally about birds and birding. If you have questions or observations you want to share, please feel free to leave a comment here or on the ... Read more

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The December 2nd show featured a conversation with Jen Cedarleaf and Kitty LaBounty, we talked the Christmas Bird Count in Sitka (present and past), and more generally about birds and birding.

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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Sitka Nature Show #302 – David Jadhon https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/11/19/sitka-nature-show-302-david-jadhon/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/11/19/sitka-nature-show-302-david-jadhon/#respond Mon, 20 Nov 2023 00:00:42 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=64598 Download Radio Show The November 19th show featured a conversation with David Jadhon. He was in town to search for nudibranchs, and we spoke about his burgeoning interest in marine invertebrates, as well as his experiences working as a research assistant on Middleton Island studying the Black-legged Kittiwakes that nest there. If you have questions ... Read more

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The November 19th show featured a conversation with David Jadhon. He was in town to search for nudibranchs, and we spoke about his burgeoning interest in marine invertebrates, as well as his experiences working as a research assistant on Middleton Island studying the Black-legged Kittiwakes that nest there.

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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Sitka Nature Show #301 – Zach LaPerriere https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/11/05/sitka-nature-show-301-zach-laperriere/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/11/05/sitka-nature-show-301-zach-laperriere/#respond Mon, 06 Nov 2023 00:00:39 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=64597 Download Radio Show The November 5th show featured a conversation with Zach LaPerriere. As it often seems to, our conversation started with wood, trees, and craftsmanship, and wandered from there. Zach mentioned the Sitka Violin project, which is underway. You can learn more about it and follow the progress on the Sitka Violin Facebook group ... Read more

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The November 5th show featured a conversation with Zach LaPerriere. As it often seems to, our conversation started with wood, trees, and craftsmanship, and wandered from there.

Zach mentioned the Sitka Violin project, which is underway.

You can learn more about it and follow the progress on the Sitka Violin Facebook group set up by Marcel LaPerriere

The luthier commissioned to build the violin is posting on his youtube channel, where you can see the work in progress.

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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Sitka Nature Show #300 – Richard Carstensen (encore) https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/10/22/sitka-nature-show-300-richard-carstensen-encore/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/10/22/sitka-nature-show-300-richard-carstensen-encore/#respond Sun, 22 Oct 2023 23:00:35 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=64596 Download Radio Show The October 22nd show featured a conversation with Richard Carstensen, originally recorded and aired in spring of 2021. We spoke about what he’s learned observing mountain goats on the slopes above where he lives, and the surprise of finding very tall trees on steep mountain slopes. \ You can see more of ... Read more

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The October 22nd show featured a conversation with Richard Carstensen, originally recorded and aired in spring of 2021. We spoke about what he’s learned observing mountain goats on the slopes above where he lives, and the surprise of finding very tall trees on steep mountain slopes. \

You can see more of what Richard’s been working on at Richard Carstensen’s JuneauNature Site

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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Sitka Nature Show #299 – Scotty Gabara (encore) https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/10/07/sitka-nature-show-299-scotty-gabara-encore/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/10/07/sitka-nature-show-299-scotty-gabara-encore/#respond Sat, 07 Oct 2023 23:00:34 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=64595 https://weblog-media.s3.amazonaws.com/raven/2023/20231007_KCAW_SITNAT_Scotty_Gabara_encore.mp3Download Radio Show The October 7th show featured a conversation with Scotty Gabara, originally recorded an aired November 2022. We spoke about a project he is involved with which is looking at the effects of glacial runoff on shoreline and nearshore marine ecosystems We also discussed his interests in natural history, diving, and underwater nature ... Read more

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The October 7th show featured a conversation with Scotty Gabara, originally recorded an aired November 2022. We spoke about a project he is involved with which is looking at the effects of glacial runoff on shoreline and nearshore marine ecosystems We also discussed his interests in natural history, diving, and underwater nature photography.

See Scott’s photos and learn more about his work

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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Sitka Nature Show #298 – Connor Goff https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/09/24/sitka-nature-show-298-connor-goff/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/09/24/sitka-nature-show-298-connor-goff/#respond Sun, 24 Sep 2023 23:00:31 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=64594 Download Radio Show The September 24th show featured a conversation with Connor Goff, we talked about Sitka bird, birding in Sitka, around Alaska and beyond. 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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The September 24th show featured a conversation with Connor Goff, we talked about Sitka bird, birding in Sitka, around Alaska and beyond.

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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Sitka Nature Show #297 – Matt Muir https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/09/10/sitka-nature-show-297-matt-muir/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/09/10/sitka-nature-show-297-matt-muir/#respond Sun, 10 Sep 2023 23:00:29 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=64593 Download Radio Show The September 10th show featured a conversation with Matt Muir. We spoke about how iNaturalist, and the community of enthusiasts it’s drawn togehter, has inspired, motivated, and otherwise supported our naturalist journey. Matt also spoke about his current big year efforts, and the people he’s met and naturalized with along the way. ... Read more

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The September 10th show featured a conversation with Matt Muir. We spoke about how iNaturalist, and the community of enthusiasts it’s drawn togehter,
has inspired, motivated, and otherwise supported our naturalist journey. Matt also spoke about his current big year efforts, and the people he’s met and naturalized with along the way.

Matt’s big year journal on iNaturalist

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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Sitka Nature Show #296 – Kitty LaBounty https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/08/27/sitka-nature-show-296-kitty-labounty/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/08/27/sitka-nature-show-296-kitty-labounty/#respond Sun, 27 Aug 2023 23:00:38 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=63706 Download Radio Show The August 27th show featured a conversation with Kitty LaBounty. We spoke about mushrooming, fall colors, learning about plants through gardening (including using native plants), visiting national parks, and more. Links to things mentioned in the show: Subpar Parks Alaska Native Plant Society If you have questions or observations you want to ... Read more

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The August 27th show featured a conversation with Kitty LaBounty. We spoke about mushrooming, fall colors, learning about plants through gardening (including using native plants), visiting national parks, and more.

Links to things mentioned in the show:
Subpar Parks
Alaska Native Plant Society

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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Sitka Nature Show #295 – Starling Birch https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/08/13/sitka-nature-show-295-starling-birch/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/08/13/sitka-nature-show-295-starling-birch/#respond Sun, 13 Aug 2023 23:00:38 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=63705 Download Radio Show The August 13th show featured a conversation with Starling Birch, videographer and mountain adventurer. We talked about the pleasure and pain of adventuring into the mountains. We also considered the motivations that drive us to put ourselves in often unpleasant and potentially regretful circumstances when exploring the challenging landscape that surrounds us ... Read more

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The August 13th show featured a conversation with Starling Birch, videographer and mountain adventurer. We talked about the pleasure and pain of adventuring into the mountains. We also considered the motivations that drive us to put ourselves in often unpleasant and potentially regretful circumstances when exploring the challenging landscape that surrounds us in Sitka.

Be sure to check out Starling Birch’s Youtube Channel for many short videos documenting some of his adventures around Baranof Island and beyond.

Starling Birch on Instagram

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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Sitka Nature Show #294 – Derek Sikes https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/07/30/sitka-nature-show-294-derek-sikes/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/07/30/sitka-nature-show-294-derek-sikes/#respond Sun, 30 Jul 2023 23:00:10 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=63302 Download Radio Show The July 30th show featured a conversation with Derek Sikes, curator of insects at the Museum of the North and Professor of entomology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. We spoke about bug camps, collecting, more generally about terrestrial arthropods in Alaska, and some particular questions of current interest. If you have ... Read more

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The July 30th show featured a conversation with Derek Sikes, curator of insects at the Museum of the North and Professor of entomology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. We spoke about bug camps, collecting, more generally about terrestrial arthropods in Alaska, and some particular questions of current interest.

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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Revisiting Indian River Valley Cliffs and Smoky Sunset https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/07/29/revisiting-indian-river-valley-cliffs-and-smoky-sunset/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/07/29/revisiting-indian-river-valley-cliffs-and-smoky-sunset/#respond Sun, 30 Jul 2023 06:11:17 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=63251 A low level marine layer moved in overnight and slowly lifted through the morning, before burning off completely late in the morning. Clear skies through the afternoon and into the evening, though smoke haze was apparent. The official high reached 70F again. Yesterday’s official high of 73F tied the record for the date (originally set ... Read more

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A low level marine layer moved in overnight and slowly lifted through the morning, before burning off completely late in the morning. Clear skies through the afternoon and into the evening, though smoke haze was apparent. The official high reached 70F again.

Yesterday’s official high of 73F tied the record for the date (originally set in 1994 – I would have been in Sitka at the time, but I have no idea what I was doing that day).

After getting my radio show done this morning as the marine layer was breaking up, I went to the park to check for moths.

Today had enough tourists for Lincoln Street to be closed. There were plenty of people at the park as well. I didn’t stay long.

The Gray Catbird nest was quiet when I stopped by, but the adults are still around. I’m beginning to wonder if the young haven’t survived, but if so, I don’t know why the parents would still be hanging around the nest.

This afternoon I headed out for what I thought would be a relatively short outing.

It’s been over 10 years since I last visited the cliffs at the base of Verstovia a little ways up Indian River valley. Until today, I had never visited them in the summer (a fact I hadn’t really thought about previously).

I crossed the river not far up the trail. With the dry month we’ve had, water levels were low and the crossing was easy.

I found a collapsed shelter. I was impressed by the bark work that had been done for the roof (though I don’t know how effective it was in practice).

Walking through a muskeg I hadn’t visited in years, I noticed signs of recent bear activities. Given how close it is, it might be a convenient location to place a trail cam?

It looked like earlier this summer a Forest Service crew went through doing boundary work. Multiple trees were blazed, and one dead one near a blazed tree was cut down. It looked like bears had been chewing on one of the sections of the cut tree.

A Cedar Waxwing that flew up to a tree was a bit surprising to me. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one away from development. [Update: on a subsequent visit to Beaver Lake, I remembered I had seen them up there earlier his year]

I followed a bear trail out. In hindsight it was not the best route as I ended up spending more time in scrubby forest than I would have liked. Even so the trail wasn’t difficult to follow. What finally put me off of it was the sounds of a large animal moving through the bushes not far away. The vegetation was thick enough that I couldn’t see what it might be. From the sounds of it a deer or bear.

I took that as motivation to cut more directly up to larger forest where I could see better.

I missed the spruce grove. It was probably lower down the valley (but I think not too far).

I remembered that on previous trip(s?) I had missed the cliffs, when I passed below them and didn’t notice them above.

Had I not been favoring further up the slope and really trying to make sure I didn’t miss them, it would have been easy to miss them again today. There was much more obscuring vegetation than on previous visits (which had always been in the winter or very early spring).

On this trip I visited more of the cliff band than I think I have previously.

I was curious about where my brother and I had previously tried picking our way up through the cliffs. I remembered a >ledge we had gone around on, but couldn’t quite remember how we got to the ledge. (It’s been nearly 20 years, plenty of time to have memory fade. Plus we were there in icy conditions – so things looked different.)

A deer trail that kept quite close to the base of the cliff was not something I expected. In parts there is probably good eating, so I imagine that’s part of the reason they go there.

I poked around especially looking at bryophytes growing under the abundant maidenhair ferns.

I took pictures of many things, some I recognized, others I think will be new for me.

Rhizomnium magnifolium was especially lush in places.

I found some Fissidens, will try to determine if it’s the usual species (Fissidens adianthoides), or one of the other ones.


There were three or four sections of cliff separated by fingers of trees coming up the base. The first section (down valley side) was quite dry. Others were wet. The furthest up valley one I visited had a nice view looking out over the lower valley with Mt. Edgecumbe in the distance.


I was surprised to find some Thalictrum growing. I saw no sign of flowering. The plants much bigger than the alpine ones I’ve seen (always in the alpine). Perhaps this is T. alpinum growing in a more favorable habitat, or maybe T. occidentale. I’m not sure if these are identifiable with just leaves.


I was also surprised to find a Malaxis monophyllos growing below the cliffs. It’s first I’ve seen in years – they can be found on several islands, especially south of town. In those locations they like to grow above the splash zone in meadowy areas. This is the first I’ve seen upland.


I noticed different looking leaf miners in Erigeron and in Symphyiotrichum.

As it was starting to get late, and I had made a pass by most everything I was comfortable getting to, I started back.

I followed a trail back down. It took me by the resistant volcanic ash water feature I’ve previously seen.

I visited a clearing I don’t have memories of being in before. I’m pretty sure I specifically made an effort to visit each of the clearings, so I think my memory of it just faded.

A reasonably nice bear trail took me to the river, where I crossed and hopped back on Indian River trail.

Back at the car, I curious about the sun. It before sunset, but I wasn’t seeing shadows.


I drove over to the airport to look. Smoky haze from Canada had moved over and was sufficiently thick to make the sun deep red, and possible to look directly at without discomfort.

I considered stopping at the bridge to take pictures, but there was not much foreground of interest in the direction of the sun. Sea Mart was my next though, though in hindsight I probably should have just skipped the airport and gone to Sea Mart to start with.

Later this evening the moon was yellow and Not very high in the sky. It should more or less follow a path the sun takes in winter near solstice, but it seems like the sun is usually a bit higher. I will have to try and remember to check if the weather cooperates next December/January.

I didn’t do a great job of labeling collections in the field, so it might be a challenge to associate them with photos/observations. I didn’t have time to work on them this evening, so will try to set aside some time tomorrow while memories are still relatively fresh.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Sitka Nature Show #293 – Matt Bracken https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/07/16/sitka-nature-show-293-matt-bracken/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/07/16/sitka-nature-show-293-matt-bracken/#respond Sun, 16 Jul 2023 23:00:00 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=63103 Download Radio Show The July 16th show featured a conversation with Matt Bracken. We spoke about his time in Southeast Alaska as the research he’s worked on, including growing up in Petersburg, and returning each summer over the past decade to continue studies investigating marine biodiversity, especially in the intertidal zones. If you have questions ... Read more

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The July 16th show featured a conversation with Matt Bracken. We spoke about his time in Southeast Alaska as the research he’s worked on, including growing up in Petersburg, and returning each summer over the past decade to continue studies investigating marine biodiversity, especially in the intertidal zones.

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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Sitka Nature Show #292 – Rich McClear https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/07/02/sitka-nature-show-292-rich-mcclear/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/07/02/sitka-nature-show-292-rich-mcclear/#respond Sun, 02 Jul 2023 23:00:56 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=63102 Download Radio Show The July 2nd show featured a conversation with Rich McCLear. A long-time Sitka resident, in recent years Rich has taken to going for a daily walk with a camera. We spoke about his history with Sitka, and how the regular walks and the intention to take pictures has impact his experience and ... Read more

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The July 2nd show featured a conversation with Rich McCLear. A long-time Sitka resident, in recent years Rich has taken to going for a daily walk with a camera. We spoke about his history with Sitka, and how the regular walks and the intention to take pictures has impact his experience and perspective of the places he visits.

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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Sitka Nature Show #291 – Britta Jensen (encore) https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/06/18/sitka-nature-show-291-britta-jensen-encore/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/06/18/sitka-nature-show-291-britta-jensen-encore/#respond Sun, 18 Jun 2023 23:00:53 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=63101 Download Radio Show The June 18th show featured a conversation with Britta Jensen. Originally recorded and aired last fall, in this conversation we spoke about efforts to better understand the eruptive of the Mt. Edgecumbe volcanic field by studying the tephra/ash deposits in the area. If you have questions or observations you want to share, ... Read more

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The June 18th show featured a conversation with Britta Jensen. Originally recorded and aired last fall, in this conversation we spoke about efforts to better understand the eruptive of the Mt. Edgecumbe volcanic field by studying the tephra/ash deposits in the area.

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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Sitka Nature Show #290 – Ian Hewson https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/06/04/sitka-nature-show-290-ian-hewson/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/06/04/sitka-nature-show-290-ian-hewson/#respond Sun, 04 Jun 2023 23:00:52 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=63100 Download Radio Show The June 4th show featured a conversation with Ian Hewson. We spoke how the results of a study he and colleagues did looking at a virus associated with giant Pacific sea cucumbers (Apostichopus californicus), as well as more broadly about viruses in the environment, and the investigation leading to the discovery of ... Read more

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The June 4th show featured a conversation with Ian Hewson. We spoke how the results of a study he and colleagues did looking at a virus associated with giant Pacific sea cucumbers (Apostichopus californicus), as well as more broadly about viruses in the environment, and the investigation leading to the discovery of the cause of a massive die off of a species of sea urchin the Caribbean.

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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Sitka Nature Show #289 – Whale Researchers (Rebroadcast) https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/05/21/sitka-nature-show-289-whale-researchers-rebroadcast/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/05/21/sitka-nature-show-289-whale-researchers-rebroadcast/#respond Sun, 21 May 2023 23:00:02 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=62570 Download Radio Show The May 21st show featured a conversation with Andy Szabo, Liah McPherson, and Dana Bloch. This conversation was originally slated to air in early April shortly after I recorded it, but due to technical issues it did not air at that time, so I re-recorded my opening and used this conversation for ... Read more

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The May 21st show featured a conversation with Andy Szabo, Liah McPherson, and Dana Bloch. This conversation was originally slated to air in early April shortly after I recorded it, but due to technical issues it did not air at that time, so I re-recorded my opening and used this conversation for this week’s show.

Andy is director of the Alaska Whale Foundation. Liah and Dana are graduate students studying whales. They were in town working on a project to measure body condition of Humpback Whales that gathered in Sitka Sound to feed on herring. They use a drone to get imagery of the whales from above and can use this to model the whale’s size and compare changes to individual whales over time.

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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Sitka Nature Show #288 – Bird Songs https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/05/07/sitka-nature-show-288-bird-songs/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/05/07/sitka-nature-show-288-bird-songs/#respond Sun, 07 May 2023 23:00:59 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=62569 Download Radio Show The May 7th show featured recordings of many common Sitka bird songs, and pointers for learning to recognize which species is singing them. 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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The May 7th show featured recordings of many common Sitka bird songs, and pointers for learning to recognize which species is singing them.

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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Sitka Nature Show #287 – Laura Kaltenstein https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/04/23/sitka-nature-show-287-laura-kaltenstein/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/04/23/sitka-nature-show-287-laura-kaltenstein/#respond Sun, 23 Apr 2023 23:00:55 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=62568 Download Radio Show The April 23rd show featured a conversation with Laura Kaltenstein. We spoke about which birds nest where in the Sitka and shared stories of nests we’ve found over the years. If you have questions or observations you want to share, please feel free to leave a comment here or on the page ... Read more

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The April 23rd show featured a conversation with Laura Kaltenstein. We spoke about which birds nest where in the Sitka and shared stories of nests we’ve found over the years.

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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Sitka Nature Show #286 – Whale Researchers https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/04/09/sitka-nature-show-286-whale-researchers/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/04/09/sitka-nature-show-286-whale-researchers/#comments Sun, 09 Apr 2023 23:00:51 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=62567 Download Radio Show The April 9th show featured a conversation with Andy Szabo, Liah McPherson, and Dana Bloch. Andy is director of the Alaska Whale Foundation. Liah and Dana are graduate students studying whales. They were in town working on a project to measure body condition of Humpback Whales that gathered in Sitka Sound to ... Read more

The post Sitka Nature Show #286 – Whale Researchers first appeared on Sitka Nature.]]>
Download Radio Show

The April 9th show featured a conversation with Andy Szabo, Liah McPherson, and Dana Bloch. Andy is director of the Alaska Whale Foundation. Liah and Dana are graduate students studying whales. They were in town working on a project to measure body condition of Humpback Whales that gathered in Sitka Sound to feed on herring. They use a drone to get imagery of the whales from above and can use this to model the whale’s size and compare changes to individual whales over time.

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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Busy Day and New Birds https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/04/06/busy-day-and-new-birds/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/04/06/busy-day-and-new-birds/#respond Fri, 07 Apr 2023 06:54:20 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=61583 Heavy clouds and frequent rain. Winds seemed diminished from yesterday. I ended up having a full day, with little outside time. This morning I finished up gathering the information I needed to get my taxes taken care of. My timing at the tax accountant was not great, as I had to wait the better part ... Read more

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Heavy clouds and frequent rain. Winds seemed diminished from yesterday.

I ended up having a full day, with little outside time. This morning I finished up gathering the information I needed to get my taxes taken care of. My timing at the tax accountant was not great, as I had to wait the better part of two hours (for all but the last few minutes of that, no one else showed up that would have been in front of me if I had come later).

I made a brief stop by Swan Lake and saw a Northern Pintail (reported earlier by DK) at the far upper end. It’s the first of those I’ve seen this year, my 84th of the year. I’m a couple species ahead of the pace for birds compared to the past couple of years. I also got my first decent look at (and photo of) a Savannah Sparrow for the year.

I did go out again later in the afternoon. The channel was much quieter (I had seen many gulls there on a brief stop before going to the tax office).

Most of the ducks seemed to have left Swan Lake, and I didn’t see the pintail.

I checked the mouth of Indian River in case it might have flown to the park. It’s possible that it did, but I didn’t see it right at the river mouth.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Swan Lake Scaups https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/04/05/swan-lake-scaups/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/04/05/swan-lake-scaups/#respond Thu, 06 Apr 2023 06:35:59 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=61580 Cloudy with periods of rain. Breezy and cool. Snow level down to around 2000 feet. Connor flew south on the early flight. I headed out late this morning with the intention of going to get the car. Fortunately he parked in 7 day parking, since I was downtown before I realized I had not brought ... Read more

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Cloudy with periods of rain. Breezy and cool. Snow level down to around 2000 feet.

Connor flew south on the early flight. I headed out late this morning with the intention of going to get the car. Fortunately he parked in 7 day parking, since I was downtown before I realized I had not brought the spare key with me.

When I had started out the rain was light, but it had gotten heavier. That and the blowing wind diminished my motivation for going back home and then heading out again.

Instead I checked on prices of note cards at a couple shops downtown. I will probably get some printed, and it looks like I should aim for a retail price around $4-$6 depending on size and quality.

I got a report of an odd looking scaup. My first impression of the photos was Greater Scaup. However, its bill was oddly pale behind the tip, more like a Ring-necked Duck.

Conditions weren’t great, but I spent some time hunkered under a tree at the lake trying to get some photos. I’m pretty sure the bird is a Greater Scaup. In reviewing photos, I’ve seen others that have a similar pale (though not quite as pronounced). This bird is nearing completion of molt into adult plumage, and I think that is also contributing to its slightly off look. The shape and size seemed consistent with Greater Scaup. It didn’t stand out to me from the others that were there. I would expect a hybrid to have at least some difference in head shape and size, given how much different a Ring-necked Duck is.

I returned this evening when the clouds had thinned and the rain let up and got slightly better photos.

The Hooded Merganser was on the lake, as was the Pied-billed Grebe. The latter is showing the dark bar on its beak now.

I spent part of the day trying to work out where to get note cards printed. I may try a couple different places and see about quality and service. Pricing varies significantly, and it looks like shipping charges might as well. It would be easy to dither on a decision, but it’s probably best to just get some printed in small volumes, see what I learn, then do larger volumes with that in mind.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Early April Gray https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/04/04/early-april-gray/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/04/04/early-april-gray/#respond Wed, 05 Apr 2023 06:23:59 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=61569 Overcast with some rain. I went out this afternoon with the thought that I might walk the Starrigavan ATV trail and hope for a grouse to call. When I got out that way and found a steady rain falling, I decided I was not that ambitious. It looked like at least some herring spawn was ... Read more

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Overcast with some rain.

I went out this afternoon with the thought that I might walk the Starrigavan ATV trail and hope for a grouse to call.

When I got out that way and found a steady rain falling, I decided I was not that ambitious.

It looked like at least some herring spawn was taking place from near Sea Mart out as far as Kerr’s Island. I couldn’t really tell how much of it was active spawning versus remnants of earlier spawning still coloring the water.

I looked at the channel, where it was mostly quiet. A few Long-tailed Ducks and mergansers were on the water. Perhaps a few dozen gulls total.

I got a report of a Ring-necked Duck on Swan Lake earlier in the day. I checked from my car when I was headed out, but didn’t spot it. On my way back, I got out and looked from the peninsula. I saw both Greater and at least one Lesser Scaup, but still didn’t find a Ring-necked Duck. This is one of the few winters I remember where I didn’t see any. I would expect some will show up on the lake this spring, and if not, then in the fall.

I made a brief stop to check moths at the park. I didn’t see as many of the Malacodea pulchraria moths as yesterday, but there were still a few.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Spring Moths and Spawning Herring https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/04/03/spring-moths-and-spawning-herring/ https://www.sitkanature.org/photojournal/2023/04/03/spring-moths-and-spawning-herring/#respond Tue, 04 Apr 2023 06:23:35 +0000 https://www.sitkanature.org/?p=61439 Mostly sunny skies until this evening when clouds began to move over from the west. Freezing temperatures overnight warmed into the 40s, melting what little snow fell late last night. I woke early this morning and heard a robin singing loudly outside. It’s the first I’ve heard in full song. I promptly went back to ... Read more

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Mostly sunny skies until this evening when clouds began to move over from the west. Freezing temperatures overnight warmed into the 40s, melting what little snow fell late last night.

I woke early this morning and heard a robin singing loudly outside. It’s the first I’ve heard in full song. I promptly went back to sleep.

I decided to head out during my call this morning. I drove out Halibut Point Road to see if herring might be spawning. I did not notice any areas of active spawn as far out as Kerr’s Island.

After the call, I went for a walk around Totem Park. Several spring moths (Malacodea pulchraria) were on the walls at the visitor center.

I checked the spot where fern-leaved goldthread grows. I didn’t see any flowers blooming. I didn’t notice any blueberry flowers out either.

This evening I drove out the road again.

The lighting was not the best, but I could see cloudy water indicating spawning inside of Kerr’s Island. I went down to the shore and was able see a few herring in the shallows.

I’m not sure how consistent it is, but it seems like I’ve typically observed herring actively spawning on a falling tide. They start before it’s fully out, and it’s hard to say how long they continue.

I had set out with the idea of stopping by the tidepools at Little Magic Island. When I arrived there, I saw herring had also been spawning. The tidepools were cloudy and had bubbles on the surface, so I didn’t try and look into them.

The herring spawn was happening from at least Little Magic Island to Magic Island. I’m not sure how much of the shoreline from there to Kerr’s Island was seeing spawn happening.

Spring song bird migrants have started showing up. A Savannah Sparrow was reported at Swan Lake today. Also I think robins are arriving from south. It’s hard to be 100% we’re not seeing robins that overwintered, but the behavior of newly arriving birds strikes me as different than the overwintering ones. The new arrivals are often out in open areas by themselves at first. In the coming days and weeks we’ll see more of them, though not really behaving as a group.

This afternoon I caught up on the last of my observations from January through March. I also published the last photojournal for that time period. It’s the first time since I started doing iNaturalist that I’ve kept up this long. It’s also the first time in a long time that I’ve kept up with publishing photo journals this far into the year without at least some gap.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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