Sunny Day around Sitka

Sunny with light breezes warming into the upper 50s.

With rain forecast to return tomorrow, I ended up spending most of the day outside in the sun.

I had calls for the morning, but went for a walk while on them.

First stop was Swan Lake, I saw the coot but not the Pied-billed Grebe.

Next I went over to Castle Hill where I didn’t see much. I did enjoy sitting in the sun for a bit, however.

I initially thought I would head over to Totem Park to see if I might find the Heermann’s Gull that had been reported yesterday for the first time since the end of August.

Instead I turned and went over the bridge.

I spent the remainder of my time on calls relaxing on the bunker near the wastewater treatment plant. Too distant to be sure, I saw what I thought looked like a blackbird of some sort dive into a salmonberry thicket on the far side of the lagoon. It was inside the airport fence, so I wouldn’t have been able to go look for it.

After checking the channel briefly I went back over the bridge.

It was midday and I considered heading home, but instead walked over toward the park.

The tide was up, and I was a little surprised to see many Black Turnstones and Surfbirds on the rocks just below the seawalk.

They didn’t seem too nervous as I stepped out to sit on a rock overlooking the shoreline. I spent a good while sitting and watching. The light direction wasn’t great, but I took photos anyway.

The tide had dropped a bit by the time I made it out to the far end of the park. Hundreds of gulls loafed on the exposed flats.

I slowly ventured towards them, and noticed a Black-bellied Plover while I was scanning the beach.

Over the next half an hour or so I relaxed and scanned the flocks repeatedly, but never found the Heermann’s Gull.

Walking out of the park, I apparently missed where a distinctive tree had fallen. It’s right along the trail. About 6ft up the trunk, a significant chunk has been missing for years. I’m not sure how I didn’t catch that it had fallen over and/or was missing (if they had already cleaned it up), but saw a post on Facebook this evening that I’m pretty sure was that tree.

I got a bit to eat at home before going to the bank with Rowan. Instead of returning home, I dropped her off and drove out the road.

I had thought I would take pictures of Cross Mountain, but in the ~10 minutes it took to drive out, clouds had started to develop in front of its face.

I noticed the Sitka alders had turned distinctly brown. I’m not sure if that’s a regular thing that I’ve just not noticed before or if I’ve noticed, but forgot.

A message from David K that the Heermann’s Gull had been out at the end of the park delayed my return home yet again.

He said it had flushed with other gulls when an eagle flew over, but had headed towards town.

I found it in a smaller flock out in front of the visitor’s center. I had forgotten just how much it sticks out from the other gulls due to its relatively small size and very dark chocolate brown color.

I had messaged Jen C. about it, as she’s been wanting to get a look at it. Unfortunately it flew off before she had a chance to see it.

I was able to see it fly and land out by the bridge, so I headed over that way (with Jen following).

It took a minute, but I did finally spotted it in the direction of Crescent Harbor. Unfortunately I had left my camera in the car and didn’t grab it quick enough when the gull took off. I wasn’t able to get pictures when it flew by.

We did refind it again in the channel, this time in the frenzied flock feeding out in front of North Pacific Seafoods.

The clouds that had started to develop when I went out to Silver Bay had formed a total overcast (or perhaps a complete marine layer) by the time I was over at the bridge looking for the gull.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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