Daily Observations

Skunk Cabbage

A chilly night with rain and snow in the forecast turned into a mostly clear sunny day. I took a walk down to Totem Park and was rewarded with the first of the expected migrating shorebirds.

Weather: There was snow on the ground this morning, but it was clear over town. The wind was blowing out of the Southeast down at the park. In the wind it was quite chilly, but if you could avoid the breeze the sun felt very warm. There were clouds hanging over many of the peaks dropping snow. During the early afternoon a little bit of snow fell from a cloud that was over Verstovia.

Birds: It was a somewhat eventful day for birds. There seems to be a number of Winter Wrens around the neighborhood. In addition to the one behind our house, it sounds like there are a couple across the street in different locations. I heard all of them singing at various times this morning.

On my walk to the park I saw a Song Sparrow, a couple of Fox Sparrows and a Winter Wren in the thickets toward Kelly Street from the spruce tree. Later, after I returned from my walk, the kids came running in to tell me the neighbor’s cat had killed a bird. I went out to look and found it was a Fox Sparrow. The bird was not dead, and I picked it up to see if I could put it someplace safe to recover. It had an open wound on its back and died in my hand. I suspect it was one of the Fox Sparrows that I had seen earlier. The kids seemed a little sad that the cat had killed the bird, but they were not too broken up about it.

Down at the park I did not see too many birds. There were a few Common Mergansers on a gravel bar in the mouth of the river. There was probable Red-breasted Merganser female along the west shoreline (in the area of the large tidepools). The highlight was the 3 Black-bellied Plovers along the shore near the battlesite.

On my way back home, I stopped by the spruce tree for a few minutes. I noticed some canopy birds in the tops of the surrounding trees. They were too small and far away to get a good look at, but I think they are probably crossbills. I need to learn their flight calls (which are abundant for the birds I saw) to be sure.

When I got home, I called to report the plovers and found out that a rare (for Alaska) species of duck had been seen around Thimbleberry Bay. The Spot-billed Duck is sometimes seen in the Aluetians and around Kodiak Island. I do not think it has been reported in Southeast before (though I may be wrong about that). I was watching the kids, so I put them in the trailer and hauled them out to Shotgun Alley to look around in hopes of being able to get pictures. I was able to find some Mallards, but no Spot-billed Ducks.

Someone told me a hummingbird had been by his feeder in recent days.

Flora: With the recent more typical spring weather (after the March cold spell) plants are starting to grow out a little bit more. The blueberries are blooming and the skunk cabbage has put up its lanterns.

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