Daily Observations

Harbor-Gavan Ridge

I hiked Harbor-Gavan Ridge from Harbor Mountain to town today, so did not spend too much time at home.

Weather: This morning it was mostly cloudy, but by noon, heavier clouds moved in and brought rain. Along the trail there was a little bit of wind, but not much. There appeared to be some fresh snow at the higher elevations of some of the peaks behind Harbor-Gavan Ridge. It looked like it might have been around 4000 feet.

Birds: It seems that many birds have young out of the nest. It was difficult to say for sure, but I think I saw juveniles of the following species, American Robin, Dark-eyed Junco, Varied Thrush, and maybe a Song Sparrow.

There were also many birds singing. I am not sure if they are birds that are nesting later (or again), or if they just continue to sing throughout the summer. I guess I tend to assume the singing has something to do with breeding, but I’m do not know.

On the way home I happened to notice a Steller’s Jay in the trees along the back road by Hames Gym. It seemed to be acting a little bit different than I have seen in the past. It was hopping about from branch to branch (so far, not too unusual). I walked over by it and it did not seem too concerned with me. It made a clicking noise (I’m not sure if it was with its beak or voice) then a breeaw sound. I don’t think it was the Red-tailed Hawk imitation that they can do, but it was somewhat similar. It repeated this call a few times. I eventually noticed there was a second jay nearby, but it did not call while for the brief time I watched them.

Flora: Things are pretty well along. The early bloomers are at or past their peak. Although I saw the plants, I did not see any Cooley’s Buttercup flowers. Species blooming included Salmonberry, Rosy Twisted-stalk, Sitka Valerian, Stream Violet, Alaska Violet, Caltha-leaf Aven, Dwarf Blueberry, Alaska Blueberry, Wedge-leaf Primrose (nearly done), Tall Mountain Shooting Star, Fern-leaf Goldthread, Columbine (just getting started), Nootka Lupine, Net-leaf Willow (just getting started), Siberian Miner’s Lettuce, Alaska Saxifrage, Alpine Azalea, White Mountain Heather, Alaska Mountain Heather, Yellow Mountain Heather, Black Lily, Narcissus Anemone, Labrador Tea (in the muskeg near Gavan trailhead), Northern Geranium (just getting started), Alaska Paintbrush, Red Paintbrush, and some graminoids (sedges and grasses).

Plants that were not flowering, but had significant growth included, False Hellebore, Broad-petalled Gentian, Sagewort, and Hawkweed.

It looks like the salmonberry crop at higher elevations may not be a bust. There were lots of flowers on the bushes that line parts of Harbor Mountain Road. They were undoubtedly protected by snow during the March cold snap and the cool weather in April.

Other Notes: There were fresh deer tracks on the trail in a number of locations.

I observed a squirrel in the subalpine Mt. Hemlock krumholtz on the south slope of Harbor Mountain. I do not remember seeing one there before. I did not pay attention to how close this patch of dwarfed trees was from the main forest, so it might not have been much of a journey for the squirrel to get there.

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