Fall Day

For the first time in days, it was not so gusty/windy (at least where I was). Rain began in the afternoon with overcast skies pretty much throughout the day.

Yesterday’s tide was 10 inches above predicted, but today’s was only about half that. We’re on the full moon part of the monthly tide cycle, so tides were high. However, the new moon brings the highest tides of the month, and even with the significant boost, the tide was not particularly close to being one of the highest of the year.

The gulls have started showing up in numbers at Swan Lake. I’m curious about this. Much like the mystery of which buildings serve as gull loafing locations (and when), it would seem the gulls could use the lake from the time they start showing up in large numbers (typically August). However, for whatever reason, I don’t usually see more than a handful at most at the lake until later in the fall.

I watched and listened along the forest and muskeg trail late this morning.

During my time there I was able to observe Fox Sparrows and Song Sparrows foraging on the ground in the salmonberry thicket around me. Fox Sparrows typically use a hop-scratch approach. (I was somewhat surprised when my photos revealed how steady their head can stay during this process.) I have seen Song Sparrows hop-scratching, but they more often seem to move around and just pick at things as they go (at least when they’re not at a feeding station eating bird seed).

I became curious what they are finding. I’ve tended to assume it is seeds, but it’s a little hard to imagine there are that many seeds in the leaf litter. I’m sure there are some, but now I’m wondering if they are also picking up small invertebrates. It occurred to me they might even be picking up springtails. Whatever it is, I didn’t really spot anything obvious while I was watching (nor in my photos).

On my way out, a bear and I walked in parallel. It had cross the trail and up into the bushes and woods not too far away. I got glimpses of it walking generally towards the river, but I never saw it particularly close (and didn’t see it at the river).

A mixed flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets and a Brown Creeper or two were working the conifers along the trail. I had my bests looks in trees at the river’s edge while I was on the bridge.

On my brief stop at Kramer Avenue, I watched a couple of squirrels trimming red alder cones. One was on each side of the road. I could hear the cone clusters hitting the ground.

It was not so easy to get pictures. There were many branches and the squirrels were quite active. I did manage to get a two photo sequence showing a cone cluster just trimmed.

At the kelp patch pullout, I saw four Horned Grebes (seemingly in two pairings). Unlike earlier in the week, there were no Red-necked Grebes. Curiously, there were no Horned Grebes earlier. Perhaps just coincidence, as I’ve certainly seen them nearby each other before.

The leaves largely off the largest maple at Castle Hill. Some of the other trees that were not so directly exposed to the windward side of the hill are holding on to more of their leaves. In the past I’ve watched from the parking lot for unusual species foraging in the leaves. It seems like that won’t work as well this year, as what leaves remain are best viewed from elsewhere.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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