28 June 2014

Late June update

Some folks have asked about the weather here on St. Paul.  Lately, it’s been mostly overcast with frequent squalls of mist… just to turn around and become sunny again for a bit.  Temperatures are generally in the 40s these days but with the oft strong winds out of the north, windchills can dip into the 30s.

We’ve essentially reached the summer season here on St. Paul Island.  Spring migrants are essentially nonexistent and the breeding residents are hitting high gear.  Both species murres are abundant breeders here; note the segregation of THICK-BILLED MURRES (top) and COMMON MURRES (bottom).  Notice the darker back color of the former and the lack of white on the bill of the latter:
Here’s a closer view of a THICK-BILLED MURRE:
If you’re spending time at the cliffs at Tolstoi Point, you might hear the distinctive song of our local PACIFIC WRENS wafting along the cliffs.  With a sharp eye, you might spot one perched on a rock ledge or in this case, under the lip of the cliff-top vegetation:
We’re still seeing a few birds here and there that aren’t breeders.  One example is this ARCTIC TERN that has been popping up in random places the past few days.  I know, it’s flying away but it’s still good enough for ID purposes:
Another nonbreeder (and honestly, perhaps a fall migrant already) was this adult WESTERN SANDPIPER on Pumphouse Lake.  Note the black legs, long bill, traces of rufous on the scaps and head, and the small arrowhead-shaped markings down the sides:
I’ll end with a few wildflower pics.  The omnipresent NOOTKA LUPINE is in full-force and its purple flowers will sometimes blanket the landscape:
Lastly, I took this photo yesterday in Antone Slough and looked it up when I got home; it’s SALTMARSH STARWORT and it’s said to be present only at two locations on the island (Antone Slough being one of them):