Daily Observations

Trumpeter Swan in Flight

I’m finally starting to feel better after being sick for over a week. It never really knocked me out completely, but I felt overly tired at the end of each day and that made it difficult to feel up to writing a blog entry. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up a little better now.

Weather: Weather over the last week or so has been varied. Overall, especially the past few days, temperatures have been cool. Saturday and today were sunny. Last Thursday was sunny early in the day, but snow started in the evening. By Friday morning there was several inches of snow on the ground.

Birds: Today I saw a Golden-crowned Kinglet for the first time in some weeks. I was biking home along Degroff street and heard a high pitched call as I turned to cross Sawmill Creek Road. I couldn’t quite decide what kind of bird it was, so I stopped to see if I could get a look. I was finally able to spot the kinglet in a pine tree beside the road. The bird appeared to be alone in the tree. This seems kind of unusual for this time of year, as I usually notice them in small loose flocks.

At Swan Lake today there was the usual assortment of Mallards, a single Scaup, and the Northern Pintail. Last Monday, I was able to determine to my satisfaction that the pintail at the lake is different than the pintail at Starrigavan (I visited both locations in a relatively short period of time and saw a pintail at each). I did not see any Ring-necked Ducks in the small patch of open water near the penninsula. Among the gulls I did notice the first year Glaucous Gull.

Last Thursday and Friday Mary Willson was in town to give a talk about the American Dippers she has been studying in Juneau for the past few years. We went out birding both days, visiting Starrigavan and Whale Park on Thursday, and Indian River Trail (with the birding class), the Channel, and John Brown’s Beach on Friday.

At Starrigavan we saw 4 or 5 Black Oystercatchers, 10 Trumpeter Swans (several of which took flight at some point during our visit), numerous gulls, Mallards, and other ducks of one sort or another.

At Whale Park it looked like there were many alcids out across the mouth of Silver Bay not too far from the opposite shore. It was a little hard to tell for sure what they were, but many looked like Common Murres. I thought some of the others might be Thick-billed Murres because they had darker heads, but now I’m thinking they might have been Common Murres that have started to molt back into breeding plumage. There was also a loon near the shore at Whale Park, it even made a brief call while we were there.

Friday on Indian River Trail we were hoping to see a dipper, but all we ended up observing was a small flock of 4 or so Chestnut-backed Chickadees. After finishing the walk for class, we went downtown to grab a little bit of lunch. When we parked on American Street, it sounded like there were small birds begging. As best we could tell, they were in the awnings of one of the buildings. It seems a bit early for nesting, but there was a bit of whitewash on the drainpipe right below where the sounds were coming from and on our way out there was a pigeon pearched on the drainpipe and the begging calls had stopped. Perhaps a pigeon is nesting there now. I may try to get down there sometime in the next couple of days to check it out again.

In the Channel we saw the usual assortment of scaups, Long-tailed Ducks, gulls, and Common Mergansers. However, there were not all that many Long-tailed Ducks, relative to other times in recent days.

At John Brown’s Beach there was a Marbled Murrelet a little ways offshore, several cormorants on a rock near Line Island

Other Notes: There were cones on a Yellow Cedar tree along the Forest and Muskeg Trail at Starrigavan. However, the ones that were low enough to get a good look at were quite green. I do not know what the usual matruing cycle is for those around here.

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