Aki waits where a low growing alder reaches out over the rocky beach. We both hear the low mutterings of a nearby raft of ducks. The noise of my transit through brush sends more than a hundred ducks to flight. They are across the narrow river by the time I disentangle myself from the alder.
“Oh well,” I tell Aki, “We came for the fog not the birds.” A drop in wind and rain last night allowed a snake of fog to form over Gasteneau Channel and the Mendenhall River. I hoped to see the beauty of its destruction by the warming day. Defeated by the self indulgence (a lie in with extra cups of tea) I am too late to see the first tears form in the fog to reveal spruce trees marching up the southern side of the channel. Now this side is cleared of the fog, the remnants of which had formed a soft scarf around Shaman Island. Looking down I see that a rope of golden brown sea weed fills our usual path through beach grass forcing us to walk on the soaked beach sand.
“Oh well,” I tell Aki, “At least it is not raining.” This, of course, brings on a shower. We walk into the wet wall and head to where the river meets the sea. Eagles rest on the wall of tall spruce on our right. One by one, they drop to within 10 feet of beach and then with the air of a dignified hunter denied prey by our presence languidly fly down the river. Aki and I barely notice the first eagle fly off. Are we so spoiled by wildlife that we treat eagles like sparrows? After the third eagle drops and departs I get out the camera. It and the other three to follow deserve at least that much attention.
The ebb tide quickly expands the beach on our side of the river and reveals the sandy wetland that forms the river’s other shore. There our ducks and many gulls search for food. They are on an island now but when the tide drops a little more it will become a peninsula offering a predator path to the birds.
Keeping to the edge of the spruce forest we come to a step rock cliff. What appears to be a well crafted rock wall starts at one end of the cliff, bows slightly onto the beach and then circles back to the cliff. While puzzling how such a structure could be formed by rocks falling from the cliff I hear a disturbance across the river and turn to see a cloud of ducks lift off from the opposite shore following the boom of a far off shotgun blast.