Unexpected Sunny Day – Birds and Views

Overcast early, becoming mostly clear by midday.

I noticed it looked like a break in the clouds around 8am. It was before the sun was up and I didn’t go take a closer look, so I wasn’t quite sure. When the sun had risen a few minutes later, the clearing was confirmed.

Over the remaining morning hours, I was mostly focused on calls (and doing some photo editing in the background), so didn’t really track the clearing conditions. I was a bit surprised at just how sunny it was when I went out around noon.

I spent most of the afternoon out and about. I was not feeling too ambitious, and mostly watched birds on the water from my car.

I stopped at Sea Mart to take pictures of Mt. Edgecumbe, and saw three Horned Grebes (and possibly another 3 or 4 more further up towards Sandy Beach).

I don’t usually stop at Kerr’s Island, but did today. This stop resulted in my biggest surprise of the day.

At first I thought a Rhinoceros Auklet had popped up between the island and shore. These are good birds for this time of year, but not super rare. When I got a closer look through my camera, I realized its bill was too thick. It was a winter plumage Tufted Puffin, the first I’ve seen. It appears to be the first winter report for Southeast Alaska in ebird, though there are older reports from Sitka not in ebird.

I called a flock of shorebirds Black Turnstones on my ebird checklist. Upon review of photos at home, I found a couple of Surfbirds and two Rock Sandpipers in the mix as well (so edited my checklist accordingly).

At Harbor Point I counted 60+ Common Murres. They were all quite far out, so no pictures. Eagles were active out in the distances a well. I am guessing there were herring out that way.

At Starrigavan the tide had dropped far enough from the midday high for some beach to be exposed. A few gulls had started to gather. I didn’t find any unusual looking ones in the mix.

Since skies had cleared nearly to the horizon, I stayed out for sunset.

The nearly full moon was already high above the Sisters and Verstovia.

It was not quite a clean horizon. However the clouds were thin enough for me to catch a bit of a green flash and even a bit of blue at the end.

I am down to a handful of days to finish up for last August’s observations in iNaturalist.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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