For the last couple of days I’ve wandered around rather aimlessly around Homer seeing what I could see. The days have progressively been less rainy, but whatever the weather, they have been beautiful.
Highlights yesterday were many White-winged and Black Scoters (a few Surf Scoters), and sparrows, mostly in the Beluga Slough area – Song, Lincoln’s and American Tree Sparrows.
Other interesting birds: calling Common Loon, a couple of Marbled Murrelets, diving Horned Grebes, and a few very brave Northwestern Crows coming to our deck for peanuts.
Today, a mostly non-rainy day, the clear highlight was a Northern Goshawk. I was at the Beluga Overlook (on F.A.A. Road) walking toward the little platform through the spruce trees when I heard a Greater Yellowlegs calling with agitation. Since I hadn’t even seen a shorebird on this trip, I hurried forward for a view of the marsh and the yellowlegs, and to my surprise saw a Northern Goshawk on the ground being scolded by the yellowlegs. The goshawk took off, but it did give me a chance for a few photos.
This afternoon I walked some of the Calvin and Coyle trail again. We ended the day back at the slough watching the sunset, and taking more photos of course.
Although it rained overnight, since I last posted it has just been clouds, only a bit of rain, a rainbow, and actual sun!
Following are a few pictures taken today and late yesterday.
First, a few White-winged Scoters:
Then a few Harlequin Ducks:
And finally, many, many photos of picturesque Black-legged Kittiwakes out the front window of our room:
The last couple of days have been without rain and beautiful (tomorrow is expected to be the beginning of multiple mostly rainy days). At night the sky has been clear or mostly clear and the stars seemed bigger than stars elsewhere.
I birded along the spit both days, seeing all three scoter species, Red-necked (photos) and Horned Grebes, Common Loons (and probably other species farther out), omnipresent Black-legged Kittiwakes, Glaucous-winged Gulls and Mew Gulls, Northwestern Crows, a few Common Ravens, Black-billed Magpies, Steller’s and Gray Jays (photos), and a Merlin.
The highlight today at the Calvin and Coyle Trail was a couple of curious Pacific Wrens.
When not birding, I’m continuing my crocheting mania and reading and planning my Nome birding for next year where I plan to visit multiple times. Dave is accomplishing much computer stuff. And we are very much enjoying watching boats and gulls out our window and eating out each evening, mostly seafood of course.
We drove from Anchorage to Homer today, which is about 225 miles. It rained most of the way, sometimes very hard. Even in the rain the beautiful yellow leaves were stunning. Now in Homer it is no longer raining but still cloudy, and there was even a but of sun at sunset and a bit of rainbow.
Birds here so far are Black-legged Kittiwakes, Mew and Glaucous-winged Gulls, Common Murres, Bald Eagle, Northwestern Crows, Common Loons (3)(one eating what seems to be a little halibut or some flatfish), Pelagic Cormorants, and Song Sparrows (plus a distant dark shearwater).
There also are seals of some kind and otters.
It’s supposed to be less rainy for a couple of days, so I’ll go exploring to see what else is around.
I know it’s not quite autumn yet, but up here in Alaska it often looks lately like it is almost winter. The picture below shows part of the Chugach Mountain range as it looked from our living room a few days ago.
But then it was alternating rainy and sunny, and the snow went away, for awhile at least. Although many of my pictures have electrical lines crossing through them, I still think the scenes with yellow birch trees are beautiful.
This morning, however, this is the view we have of the mountains – just low clouds.
At home, the Steller’s Jays have been unusually combative. Either the grown youngsters and their parents are having family squabbles or perhaps a newby has arrived. In any case, every now and then there’s a lot of noise and raised crests, and then all subsides. I haven’t seen any casualties or actual jay injuries. About half of the 5-6 jays that are often around are tame enough to eat from my hand. The picture below was taken from inside the house looking out on our back porch at one of the recent duels. As usual, peanut hulls are everywhere. The jays often hide shelled peanuts under the rug, and others sometimes steal the nuts away (or maybe it’s the same jays coming back for the hidden nuts).
Yesterday morning I slipped away from my desk and chores and managed to get out to Potter Marsh, braving the wind and a bit of rain.
The birds seen were Trumpeter Swans (12) bobbing along and wiggling to stir up the mud, usually closely followed by Mallards looking for tidbits from the swans’ efforts, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeons, a couple Greater Yellowlegs, and resident birds, including Black-capped Chickadees, Black-billed Magpies and two adult Bald Eagles.
Both yesterday and today I noticed a bit of new “termination dust” (the snow that was there earlier had melted) but so far the snow does not seem to be staying on the mountains visible from our house.
Birch trees in Anchorage are definitely beginning to turn yellow and leaves are beginning to fall and be blown about.
The amount of daylight has been decreasing by over 5 minutes each day. In a week, there will be 12 hours each of dark and light, and then we’ll be racing toward increasing darkness. And the snow will come closer and closer. Sigh.
I thought it would be good to surface again on my blog. For the past many days I’ve mostly been facing west – facing west at my computer working on my manuscript, punctuated periodically by facing west out the backyard windows and porch door to see what birds are around. Every now and then I allow myself to crochet a few stitches on my next shawl.
On the manuscript, I long ago went through the detailed comments of the reviewers. Since then I’ve been re-reading and revising, primarily following their more general suggestions, and hoping to remedy concerns regarding commas, repetitiveness, verbosity, clarity and the like. The goal is to get it off to the publisher so they can review it and my comments on how I’ve responded to the reviewers and can decide if indeed they are willing to publish it. Fingers crossed (although it’s hard to type in that position).
It’s been very windy the last couple of days, blowing the birds and seed around and blowing the porch rug as shown under the hungry jays on the back porch. The garbage can is where their peanuts are stored and the weed-whacker handle is where they often sit as they work at cracking open the peanut shells. Because they are so quick on taking most of the peanuts away to hide them, they spend much time just sitting on the porch waiting for me to bring them more peanuts.
The final picture shows our backyard fireweed patch as it begins to turn fall colors.
Now, back to work.
Today I went to Campbell Creek Estuary Natural Area, hoping for sparrows, very few of which I saw. Just Lincoln’s Sparrows.
It was more a day for raptors. After viewing a Merlin, a Peregrine Falcon and a Northern Harrier; Mallards, American Wigeons and Canada Geese; Sandhill Cranes; Black-billed Magpies and a Steller’s Jay; and various little birds (Black-capped Chickadees, American Robins, Red-breasted Nuthatch), I decided to check out the woodland trail. Imagine my surprise when over the bushes just ahead of me, a big bull moose rose to his feet from where he had been lying down next to the path! Needless to say, I did not go farther up the path. I was very glad he did not appear interested in following me.
As I approached Jewel Lake, I was delighted to see an Osprey circling repeatedly over the road.
At Lakes Hood and Spenard, there was very little activity, just Greater Scaup, a Horned Grebe (sleeping so not much of it was visible to make me absolutely certain of my ID), and both goldeneyes (no photo).
This morning I looked out the back window and saw a half-grown moose in our neighbors’ back yard, eating their flowers.
As I began taking a photo, I heard my phone ringing (quacking) and went back in to answer it. It was our neighbor telling me we had a moose in our own back yard and that there was a second young one behind our fence in another neighbor’s back yard! He was right. The mama moose was mostly hidden in the little “forest” I am allowing to grow back there, ripping off whole branches and munching leaves. So it got a little unintended random pruning.
As I watched, the mama gradually showed herself, munching nonstop.
Eventually she walked toward me (I was standing on our second floor porch) and poked her head over the side gate and nuzzled the first young one that had come around our house.
Mother and the first young one went out of sight beside our house while the second young one stayed way back behind our house. I looked out toward the front of our house and saw the mama and one young one walk across the street and stand awhile on a neighbor’s porch area. Soon after, all three moose were eating on the neighbor’s tree and bushes.
People by then were leaving for work and the mama started looking a bit tense. She headed off to the right where school kids were lined up on the corner for the bus. I heard them shriek and run up that street. The moose continued to trot toward them, the bus arrived to pick up the kids, and all were gone.
I’m now back from Nome, after an excellent trip of wandering around and birding on Nome’s three main roads. On the afternoon of September 3 and on September 4, I shared a Nome rental car with a fisherman-professor, John Waldman from New York. We would drive to a good fishing spot, where I would drop him off for a couple of hours and go birding, and then return to pick him up and repeat. Toward the end of the day yesterday, I returned and got photos of him catching a very lovely silver salmon (I think that’s what it was; he returned it to the water).
Scenes from yesterday on the Council Road are below. I took many photos of the golden vistas and the beautiful multi-colored slopes. The blueberries were very good, but I was too lazy to do anything but pick and eat a few.
Birds seen and photographed were dowitchers (Long-billed, I believe), Pectoral Sandpipers, Sandhill Cranes, a Slaty-backed Gull (undoubtedly a different one than seen some 70 miles away the day before), a Glaucous Gull, and young Northern Shrikes.
For this trip I stayed for the first time at an airbnb, Remi’s. Shown below are Remi and Igor, wonderful hosts, and their two darling, very friendly little rescue dogs.
I’m thinking of spending more time in Nome at different seasons of the year. It’s a very interesting place with great diversity of habitat, and I’ve just made a beginning in seeing it.