Sunny October Sunday

Clear skies this morning with a thin layer of clouds moving over through the afternoon. Calm winds.

The clouds evidently did not extend very far to the west. The mountains turned quite pink as the sun was setting. I was at Moller Park and not able to see the horizon, so I’m not sure if it was just a gap, or if there was an opportunity to see the sun drop below the horizon. It was very nice views. The color reflecting off the clouds brightened as the pink faded on the mountains.

I decided to walk to Swan Lake and see if the Redhead was still around.

Along the way, I noticed several juncos that appeared to be foraging on a cedar tree in someone’s yard. I’m not sure if they were actually getting food, but that’s what it looked like to me. I don’t remember ever seeing that before. I suppose it’s also possible they were picking something up nearby, then flying to the tree to finish eating it and cleaning off their bills. [Update: careful review of photos suggested they were pulling seeds out of the cedar cones, some of which had broken open]

A Hooded Merganser was near the inflow of the lake when I arrived. It was more cooperative than most I’ve seen, so I was able to take some photos.

The Redhead and three coots were still around towards the lower end of the lake. I don’t know how long the Redhead will be here, but I expect the coots will likely remain until the lake freezes up.

I noticed a Gadwall and American Wigeon near each other. I tried to get photos of them together for comparison. I had more success with the effort on a later stop.

KL met me at the lake, and we went over to Japonski Island for a walk around.

It was pleasant weather for a walk, but mostly fairly quiet.

The highlight for me was noticing an answer to a question I had been curious about back in September. At the time I had noticed winding linear trails through find sediment covering a low spot on a gravel path. I wondered what had made them.

Today I noticed similar trails, but this time there were a couple of earth worms. In hindsight it seems like an obvious option, but I guess that’s the way hindsight works.

I spent some time taking pictures of a cooperative young Great Blue Heron along the shoreline. In my experience, the young ones tend to be much more tolerant of attention than adults. I’m not sure when they lose their tolerance, though.

We made a brief second stop by Swan Lake. The Redhead had been reported near inflow, but it was back down at the lower end of the lake.

From there we drove out to Blue Lake.

It was interesting to see a fair amount of green along the lower parts of the two main avalanche tracks. This included some blooming cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum). There were several flies on the flowers. I’m guessing these are species that overwinter as adults, but I’m not sure.

I have wondered about the timing of leaves dying back. This seems to be strong evidence that it’s not strictly due to decreasing daylight. The plants that are still green got a much later start. They are in zones where avalanches deposited snow which didn’t melt until July or so.

After lunch at the Beak I looked around at Castle Hill. It was quiet.

The kelp patch pull out had a White-throated Sparrow. It’s the second I’ve seen this fall and probably the fourth or fifth that’s been reported in town. They seem to have become more regular over the past decade or so.

We played an abbreviated game of ultimate this evening. Darkness is coming upon us earlier and earlier.

LP messaged me that when she had been at Swan Lake this morning, police had been there because of a large bear in the area. She never saw it. I suspect it was gone by the time I got there, as there were no police or fish and game folks.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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