Soft Day for Troubled Eagles

Last night I asked Aki politely, to let us sleep past the usual wake up time. That was a mistake as was my assembling the fishing rod before going to bed. She rose this morning before 6 am to pace up and down the wooden floors leading to our bedroom.  Not able to sleep through the resulting tattoo I was soon up and out the door on the way to Fish Creek.

We drove from town to the trailhead through a settled rain —the kind that lasts all day. It’s what the Irish call a soft day. Comfortable in decent rain gear I don’t mind.   We have the trail to ourselves. The weather doesn’t stop the animals of forest and stream from their jobs. When the creek noise abates over a clear deep reach we hear song birds and the complaints of eagles.

Walking down stream first we check the pond for early king salmon but see only the pens of thousands of juvenile fish that will soon be released to seek their fortune in the sea. Many will pass their ancestors returning to these natal waters. It’s an artificial deal, this salmon run, manufactured by the state to create a sport fishing opportunity. The king salmon, some reaching 10 or 15 kilos, arrive in early June then wander around the pond most of the summer dodging fishing lures. When the rains of August raise the creek level some will follow the wild chum and pink salmon up stream to battle for space on the spawning redds.

An earthen dike once separated the pond and stream. Now a 50 meter wide breach in the dike allows the waters to mix and fish to enter the pond from the stream. We stand on the dike near to breach under an eagle’s tree. The big brown and white bird breaks from its perch above us and flies directly away. 

Across the pond several crows try to drive a different bald eagle from atop a waterside spruce tree. The crows take turns descending on the eagle in a noisy dive. Hunkering down, the eagle holds his ground for a few minutes then leaves for a quieter perch. I’ve included one blurry picture of the scene because the crow has managed to make itself look like an avenging angel.

Turning away from all this drama we move up stream where the sound of moving water and tern song and the green explosion of early summer offers me true peace. Aki, not really a seeker of peace, charges up and down the trail, her red wrap soaked with rain.    

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