This photo from early April was one of the many photos I dealt with today. When I took the shot, I failed to check the settings and ended up with a very over exposed and blurred image. While looking at it today, I was intrigued with it, and did a little processing to bring back some of the detail and add a little bit of contrast to create an image I liked well enough to keep.
This time of year it can be hard to keep up with everything that is going on. Birds are arriving – some to nest, others just passing through on their way north to nest elsewhere, and then there are those few individuals that bring their own sort of excitement, the vagrants. You never know when or where a vagrant might show up, though there are certainly ways to improve your chances of finding one. In any case, this spring so far hasn’t been the best for seeing migrants, probably in large part due to the warm mild weather through out much of the southern part of the state. I suspect the birds have just pushing right on through.
While birds certainly aren’t the only thing to pay attention to out there, the lack of much bird activity (for the time of year) recently made it easier to stay home today and try to play catch up a bit. I made a very small dent in the 22,000+ photo backlog I have going back to 2008 and a much larger dent (relatively speaking) taking care of some of the insect collections I’ve made recently. On the plus side, I have managed to edit and process photos from this year to the point where I’ve only got 16 days left to take care of going back to the beginning of the year. That’s probably the best I’ve done do this point in the year since 2007 or 2008, so I’m happy with that progress.
In addition to working on photos, I helped to move the chicken coop across the yard. Connor and Rowan are teaming up with the neighbor to raise four chicks (hopefully most/all won’t be roosters, though they don’t know yet). They ended up getting a full grown chicken from out the road – the Fortress of the Bears was divesting of all their farm animals, so now we have a laying hen (even though the coop and chicken yard isn’t really ready yet).
While I was outside, I noticed a butterfly flitting about in the neighbor’s front yard. Connor was able to follow it fast enough to spot where it landed and I was able to get enough of a look at it to tell that it was a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell (Aglais milberti). He said it was the same kind he had seen previously in the yard. I suppose it’s possible that it’s the same one I saw at the park, but that seems unlikely. Interesting that they’ve shown up this year, as they are certainly not typically found around Sitka. It may end up being a good year for butterflies, as I’ve already seen two Margined whites (Pieris marginalis) this year as well.
In bird reports, I forgot to mention that Connor said he saw the Anna’s Hummingbird not far up along Gavan Hill trail yesterday. Sounded like it was about where I saw it last Sunday, so perhaps it’s nesting here. That would be interesting, as I don’t know if there’s a documented case of them nesting in the state. I also heard about a small group of Whimbrels over at the airport (the only ones reported so far). Also a female Red-winged Blackbird was seen at Swan Lake today. In addition, there have been two Sandhill Cranes (seen Monday and again today) in the open flats near Sealion Cove. Cranes have not yet (as far as I know) been documented nesting (i.e., no nests or flightless young have been reported) in the Sitka area, but it’s strongly suggested that they do nest over on Kruzof in at least some years.