Weather: As I left home this morning for an 8am meeting, there was blue sky overhead with ominous clouds hanging above the water to the southwest. I hoped the clouds would hold off through part of the morning, but it was not to be. By the time I got done with the meeting and was able to get started on a walk, skies were overcast. As I approached the beach at Totem Park, I had the interesting experience of watching the snow come towards me. Throughout the day there were snow showers interspersed with brief periods of clearing skies. Wind was out of the Southeast, though not as strong as yesterday.
Birds: On my way to my morning meeting, I decided to see if I could find the location of the singing Winter Wren that I hear frequently behind the house. As I was closing in on its location, I became unable to place the sound. It took me a few moments of turning and tilting my head before I realized the bird was directly overhead. Apparently my ability to judge audio spatial cues practically disappears when a sound is coming from directly above.
I only had time for a short walk today, so I took a pretty brisk pace around the Totem Park tideflats between 10 and 10:45am. I heard and saw a couple of small groups (less than 10) of flying shorebirds that sounded like Surfbirds or Black Turnstones. I did not observe any shorebirds on the beach. It is possible I just missed some due to the pace I took.
On the way out, I stayed up near the high tide line and went all the way to the estuary before going out to the point between the two channels areas in the flats near the river mouth. I saw some gulls, but none looked unusual to me. I also saw six teals flying, though that identification is based on my experiences from yesterday rather than a clear close look at the birds themselves.
On the way back I walked the shoreline as much as possible. I saw a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers and the surprise of the day for me was a Pigeon Guillemont not too far off shore. I did not actually know what it was until I was able to come home and check in the bird books. Upon later review of my photos, I noticed that a gull which I had paid no attention to at the time was actually a Black-legged Kittiwake. Imagine my surprise! I have been actively looking for those birds at the park, but had never noticed one. The only reason I saw this one was because it happened to be in the frame when I was taking pictures of a different bird.
On my way down to Sage Building after a quick lunch at home, I noticed the chirpy birds I have been hearing and seeing lately. One of them was actually out on a branch where I thought there might be a decent chance of getting an identifiable photo. My hopes were realized when I looked later and was able to conclusively say the bird was not a Pine Siskin, but rather was a crossbill. They are probably Red Crossbills, though I am not certain of that. Last year there were Red Crossbills around at this time, though they were actually feeding near the ground. I guess the cones are better up high this year.
There were numerous American Robins as well as a few starlings feeding on the campus lawn this afternoon.
Other Notes: While I was walking back along the shoreline, I saw a Sitka Blacktail deer coming down the beach toward me. It got as far as the water that connects the large tidepool to the bay before it apparently decided not to get wet and turned around. I caught up with it along Sage Beach and was able to get a couple photos of it as I walked by to get back in time for my 11am class.