Daily Observations

Islands off of Sitka

I guess today could be considered the calm after the storm. I made another trip down to New Thompson Harbor to see if I could get some photos in better light than had been available yesterday. Although the light was better, the birds were not. They seemed to have dispersed from the dock area quite a bit. One thing that I did find interesting was how much the dock was moving in the swell. I had previously heard that New Thompson Harbor gets a bit of a swell coming in, but this was the first time I had witnessed it. Although the water looked calm, the subtle swell had a pretty powerful effect on the docks. I almost think they were moving more today than yesterday in the wind. That could just be a matter of perception and expectations, however.

On my way home, I stopped at Swan Lake to see what was going on there. Most of the ice was melted and there were quite a few birds on the lake.

Weather: There was actually a little bit of sunshine early this morning, but it was only a brief clearing. The rain held off for most of the day however, and there was not much wind. I was a little disappointed that I did not think of going kayaking until it was a little too late to do it. There was a fair swell/surge that would have made getting off and on the beach a little challenging, but I don’t think it would have been very bothersome out on the water.

Birds: There was a male Kingfisher at Crescent Harbor that I was able to take some photos of.

The scaups were not in the SSS cove today either, but unlike yesterday I could see/hear the Long-tailed Ducks in the channel. They were probably there yesterday, but it wasn’t so easy to observe them.

At New Thompson Harbor I saw a couple of Greater Scaups, as well as Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants. Common Mergansers were still around, though I did not notice any of the Red-breasted Mergansers I saw yesterday.

Something I noticed as I was leaving the harbor was the behavior of some Common Ravens in the parking lot. Two different pairs were exhibiting similar behavior just as I was leaving. They were each perched on (different) light posts. One of them seemed to be preening the other, or maybe just making gestures that seemed like they were trying to supplicate the other bird. After watching this for a minute or two, I decided to take a picture, but before I could, one of the birds in the pair I was watching most closely flew away. The bird that flew away was the one that was making most of the moves of supplication. As I moved toward the other pair, the supplicating bird in that pair flew over to the lightpost where the remaining bird was still perched from the first pair. These two birds did not interact in the way I had just seen.

Swan Lake had quite a few more birds than before. This was almost certainly due to how much more open water there was. I wonder if the birds periodically check the lake when temperatures warm and then when it’s thawed enough, they settle in.

In addition to the Mallards, there were several Ring-necked Ducks, scaups, at least two male Hooded Mergansers, and quite a few gulls on and around the lake. One thing that was interesting about the gulls is everyone I could identify (all of the 10+ adults and third year birds) were Glaucous-winged Gulls. I kind of thought there might some Herring or Thayer’s Gulls in the mix, but not today.

One other interesting bird at the lake was a Double-crested Cormorant. I do not know if it is the same one I saw a year ago in December, but I suppose it might be. With the exception of lone Double-crested Cormorants on Swan Lake, all the cormorants I have seen were in/around salt water.

Along Degroff street there was a small flock (10-25, probably) of Pine Siskins taking advantage of a feeder. I saw one siskin get chased around briefly by one of the few Dark-eyed Juncos that was there at the time. There were also a couple of Chestnut-backed Chickadees. While I was stopped to look at these birds, I heard a Stellar’s Jay.

There was a flock of 100 or so shorebirds on Sage Rock. It looked like they were about evenly split between Surfbirds and Black Turnstones.

While I was investigating the shorebirds on the rock, I happened to notice a couple of loons, a Common Goldeneye, female Buffleheads, cormorants, and Harlequin Ducks all swimming within binocular distance of the shore.

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