Daily Observations: Clouds and Birds

This entry is part 171 of 221 in the series 2007 Photojournal

Islands and Clouds

Yesterday I did not feel all that great after a relatively poor night of sleep, though I did stop by Swan Lake briefly and get out on a walk to the park with Connor.

Today I stopped by Swan Lake this morning after dropping Connor off at school. I also stopped by Centennial Building and to look around on my way home. Late this morning I took advantage of pleasant weather to go for a walk to Totem Park.

Weather: Yesterday was rainy and a bit breezy. Snow level dropped to about 2900 feet or so. Today it started out overcast, but became partly cloudy for much of the late morning and early afternoon. Clouds moved in again later in the afternoon, though I did not notice any rain. This evening after sunset there were clear skies over town. The temperature this morning was near 40, and the snow level behind town was probably around 2700 feet. Mt. Edgecumbe was mostly covered in clouds when I looked, but what I could see through the breaks appeared to have no snow, despite the crater rim’s elevation being between 2800 and 3200 feet in elevation. Perhaps the far side (which is the higher part) had snow, or it was just warmer out there.

Birds: Yesterday the two scaups were still at Swan Lake. I also saw three American Wigeons, and the Cackling Goose. At Totem Park we noted the Ruddy Turnstone, American Pipits, Savannah Sparrows and the Spotted Sandpiper.

This morning at Swan Lake I saw two American Wigeons, two Greater Scaups, a Hooded Merganser (on the HPR side of the lake), and the Cackling Goose.

On the rocks near the Crescent Harbor boat ramp, there were quite a few Black Turnstones and Surfbirds. They alternated between the rocks just inside the breakwater, the rocks on the outside of the breakwater, and the rocks across the Kettleson Library cove. There were probably more than 100 birds in total, with most of them Black Turnstones. I saw perhaps 10 Surfbirds.

As I was leaving the house for my walk, I noticed two Song Sparrows singing back and forth. One was by Austin House, the other in the large elderberry just down the drive. I think the sunshine brought out the urge to sing, as I heard more Song Sparrows singing down along the beach also.

There were quite a few Black Turnstones and a few gulls at Sage Beach. There were also several Harlequin Ducks.

I think I saw a couple of Red-necked Grebes out in Crescent Bay.

There was a Hermit Thrush along the beach at the same place where one seemed to join me for a time on my walk a couple of days ago. A little further up the beach I saw two more Hermit Thrushes. Later I also saw another Hermit Thrush in the woods near the trail as it nears the bridge across the river.

There were quite a few Savannah Sparrows and not quite as many Song Sparrows scatter about foraging at the upper part of the beach.

I do not know if it’s coincidental timing or not, but the number of gulls at Totem Park has been much less in the few days since I saw the goshawk kill the gull. At first I thought it might be because I was visiting at high tides, but today the tide was out a bit and there were still far fewer gulls. There are fewer salmon carcasses on the beach, but most of the gulls on the beach before were not eating at the time anyway. Today I saw perhaps a couple of hundred gulls in 2 or 3 flocks at different places on the tide flats. I saw some Black-legged Kittiwakes out from the beach between the Battlesite and the River Mouth.

At the river mouth there were 50+ Harlequin Ducks, 5 Northern Pintails, a Green-winged Teal, several Mallards, 4 Barrow’s Goldeneye, and around 15 Surf Scoters. The goldeneyes were the first I have seen this fall. Six Common Mergansers flew up to the river while I was watching, but by the time I got up there, I only saw 2 diving at the lower part of the estuary. I was interested to see a Northern Pintail diving with them. I think of pintails as dabbling ducks, so it was strange to see this one diving, presumably for salmon eggs. It seemed to require more effort to get underwater than the mergansers did.

There were quite a few gulls in the estuary and river, but still not as many as I had seen last week and before.

On my walk around the flats I also saw several Pelagic Cormorants and I think one Double-crested Cormorant.

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