Daily Observations

I did not get out at all today.

Weather: December has brought with it some very cold temperatures. I don’t think they are record lows for this time of year, but it’s certainly colder than anything I’ve seen the last five years at this time. Temperatures were in the 20s today under clear skies, but dropped into the teens this evening.

Monday: (Photos)
I stopped by Swan Lake today just before picking Rowan up from preschool, I also took her there after getting her. The lake is quite frozen.

Weather: Quite chilly today with a pretty good breeze at times. Highs were in the teens at the house, with lows around 10. Clear skies have persisted. Swan Lake had several inches of ice. I saw one man ice skating this morning, and three other guys went out in the middle for awhile when Rowan and I were there. I figured it was best to stay in the relatively shallow parts, just in case. I heard from someone later that the fire department might have been discouraging people from going on the ice since there was not anyone out there later in the afternoon. It was interesting to hear the ice ping and resonate when the man was ice skating.

Birds: Not much was left at the lake as even where the water stays open longest near the inflow was frozen solid. There were three Mallards, three of the domestic mallard breeds, and the Cackling Goose. While Rowan and I were at the lake someone scared the birds. The domestics stayed, but the Mallards and Cackling Goose flew off. I’m not sure if they came back, as we were leaving right about that time.

There was a dead Herring Gull on the peninsula. It’s body had been eaten, but head, wings, and feet were still intact. I heard from the ice skating man that the gull was there yesterday morning with just a few pecks in its chest.

Connor said he saw three swans flying over when he was walking home after getting dropped off by the bus. He said he also saw a snipe fly up from a yard when he was on the bus.

Tuesday: (Photos)
More cold weather. Rowan and I went to Swan Lake after she got done with preschool and ended up staying there until well into the afternoon. We were going to leave a little earlier, but Melissa picked up Connor from school and brought him to the lake, since he had not yet had a chance to run around on the ice.

Weather: Still cold, but not too breezy. The cracks in the ice were pretty interesting to look at. I guess I had never noticed them before, probably because usually I have not been on the ice before the skaters carve up the surface so the cracks are not as noticable.

Birds: At first I did not notice any birds at the lake, but later I found three of the domestic breed Mallards down at the outflow where there was a small bit of open water. When I went back there a second time with Connor, it appeared that someone had dropped off some bread. There were probably a couple dozen Ravens on the ground and in branches of the surrounding trees. There also seemed to be a bit of conflict between two of the Mallards. One of them was chasing and biting another on the back near the neck. When the chased duck tried to climb out on the ice or shore, the biting duck would pull it back. The third mallard just swam after the other ducks, but never acted particularly aggressive. Finally, after several trips around the small opening, the set upon duck managed to get up on shore.

At one point I noticed the Cackling Goose and two or three Mallards fly circles over the lake before leaving. Presumably they were coming to see if there was any open water.

There was a Golden-crowned Sparrow in amongsted quite a few juncos at a feeder in a lake shore yard.

Wednesday: (Photos)
I walked up to the first bridge on Indian River Trail this afternoon.

Weather: Mostly clear skies continued, with temperatures a little warmer, but still quite chilly. The Falls Fork of Indian River was significantly frozen near the confluence with the West Fork. As usual, the West Fork was completely ice free.

Birds: It was quiet on the walk up the trail, but on the way back I heard several Winter Wrens and Ravens. I also heard Golden-crowned Kinglets, and probably Brown Creepers, though I’m not entirely confident in my ability to correctly recognize their calls.

While I was at the confluence, I saw a duck (probably Mallard) fly over along the river channel. It flew up from downstream and continued up the Falls Fork. I also saw an American Dipper while I was there.

On the way back there was a Common Merganser on the river a little ways upstream from the bedrock cascade.

Near the muskeg on the way back I heard a call that sounded like it could have been a Western Screech Owl (though not the typical bouncing ball call). I investigated further and upon hearing it again realized it could have been an eagle. It seems strange to not be able to tell whether a call was an eagle or a screech owl, but I did not last long and was some distance away. It was still daylight, so it seemed a bit early for owls, plus I saw an eagle fly over while I was trying to find the source of the call.

Thursday: (Photos)
I only had three hours, but I decided to go for a hike up the West Fork valley to see if the big tree falls were frozen. I did not have long, so I got up to the big tree at a quick pace (it took me an hour from the trailhead), went over to the waterfall and climbed up to the base of the upper falls (which were quite frozen), then decided to cut across the valley and see if I could find the upper end of the big muskegs (which ended up being easier than I expected). I was able to get back within my time limit.

Weather: Though still freezing, temperatures were warmer today. Temperatures during the day were in the mid to upper 20s, and this evening it warmed up to get over 30. It started out mostly clear, but by afternoon, the clouds had moved in. Just a few flakes of snow were falling when I walked over to UAS to hear a talk about dragonflies.

Birds: I saw three Red-breasted Sapsuckers. Two of them were along the trail, the third startled me as it flew right above my head and landed on the trunk of the big tree as I sat at its base.

I saw an American Dipper at the first bridge on the way back.

I did not get out too much today. I dropped Rowan off at preschool, but did not spend any time looking around for birds.

Weather: It was above freezing today. Connor came in from feeding the birds this morning and told me it was slippery outside. I figured a little snow had fallen to make it a little bit slippery, but in actuality it had apparently rained just enough to form a glaze of ice on the still frozen ground. It was not as bad as the ice storm that happened while I was in Pullman one year, but it was kind of slippery.

Birds: I noticed Dark-eyed Juncos around the house, but not too much else.

I spent only a few minutes outside today.

Weather: Temperatures have warmed up considerably over earlier in the week. It got up in the mid-30s. The ground is still frozen, but the glaze of ice from yesterday is starting to go away. Winds were calm with heavy overcast. This evening a light rain started.

Birds: There were juncos and at least a couple of Varied Thrushes around the house at various times today.

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