It has been very gloomy lately. When the clouds parted around noon yesterday, I was elated but also knew I had to stay inside and finish my shift at work. Today made up for that. After all, I had to soak up the sun before it goes back to being cloudy for a week straight. In between meeting a friend for lunch, going to the gym*, and getting some errands done, I had some time to check out the city’s conservation parks. I more or less did a large clockwise loop of the west side.
*My only first-of-year bird today was a belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) I saw from the gym parking lot.
As far as animal sightings went, the day started off slowly. I walked down a trail I knew would be crawling with common garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis) in a matter of weeks but the only evidence of my fellow creatures was the calling of black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus). As my walk went on I started hearing new sounds: robins (Turdus migratorius) picking through mud.
In some of the lower, wetter areas my 2017 herping season began as I saw three painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) and heard a few western chorus frogs (Pseudacris triseriata). There were not enough for a chorus yet, but soon they will be singing from every wetland in the region.
As evening fell the blackbirds took over. Common grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) and red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) sang from every marsh. As usual for this time of year I took lots of pictures of singing red-winged blackbirds. This year’s variation is that I found one singing on the sidewalk.
Grackles don’t photograph well. There are very beautiful birds but I never seem to get a picture of them that fully captures that. I’ll blame it on iridescence not being a trait that works will with photography. There were a lot of them though and I got a few pictures of one. I think the one I kept turned out well.
Now the sun has gone down. When I wake up tomorrow it will be mostly cloudy. There will likely be rain this weekend, mostly on Saturday so I had to postpone a hike I was planning to lead then. That’s spring for you. Rain is an essential part of this season. Of course, that’s not to say I won’t enjoy the next sunny day.