March is Moving On

Somehow most of a month has slipped by with very limited posting, despite my intentions to keep up with nearly daily posts. I’ve started to fill in some of the missing days with photojournal entries (see side bar for recent updates there), though in most cases it’s been long enough that I have forgotten what I was going to write about the day to accompany the pictures.

This March has seemed quite dry, with cold temperatures early on and warming later in the month (though still freezing at night). Looking back at the March 2011 weather record for the Sitka Airport, it looks like the cold weather was mostly in February, with only a day or two of particularly frigid conditions. It has been exceptionally dry, however. Rain is falling now and nearly 1/3 of an inch has accumulated in the 3 hours since midnight, but even so – only 1.17 inches has fallen so far (including so far today) and it’s highly unlikely another 4.5 inches will fall in the next 45 hours to bring the total up the the 5.78 inch long-term monthly average. Lack of rain along with relatively cool temperatures have resulted in low levels at both hydro facilities, so the city as asked citizens to reduce power consumption to avoid running the large diesel generators used to supplement power when necessary. Hopefully the current rains help alleviate that problem somewhat.

It seems like many things are running a little late this year as compared to the recent past. I have not seen any wild flowers blooming, but with the recent warmer temperatures and sun, I expect to find blueberries or salmonberries in flower any day. Insects have started showing up – I saw a Snow Sedge (Psychoglypha sp) flying around within the last couple of days. There have also been other flies I do not yet know how to identify.

Herring are starting to mature, and it’s likely the first opening will happen today or tomorrow, at least a week after last year’s. Perhaps they have been waiting for ‘herring weather’ – the mix of snow/rain/sleet/hail/sun/wind changing every 5 minutes that seems to often mark the herring spawn. Until this point it’s been mild with partly to mostly cloudy skies, relatively light winds and little precipitation of any form. The forecast indicates wind, rain, and possibly snow in the forecast through the end of the week. In any case, there are many whales, sea lions, seals, eagles, gulls, and other birds cruising the near shore waters looking for herring schools to feast on. It’s a fun time to be out near the water watching the activity – Connor said a whale even came up close to Sage Rock this morning.

On the bird front – Song Sparrows have started singing in earnest. I was out at 5:30am last week and was surprised to hear so many singing around town well before sunrise. Migrants so far consist of gulls and robins. It would be interesting to know where all the robins that have showed up recently spent the winter, but it certainly seems like more are around in the last week or so, so I believe they have come from somewhere south. I think Dark-eyed Juncos have started to disperse, as I’m not seeing flocks of them as commonly around the neighborhood.

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