To avoid heavy dog traffic on our normal Fish Creek trail, I lead Aki down one I haven’t explored for at least 20 years. It passes through a second growth forest. A generation ago, someone had cut every old growth spruce or hemlock on this streamside land. Today only spruce with 5 or 6 inch thick trunks grow jammed together so tight that their combined canopy blocks out sunlight. No understory plants can survive the resulting darkness.
After sliding along an icy trail through the second growth, the little dog and I drop onto the wetlands in time to watch a bald eagle flush fifty mallards from a stream eddy. If the eagle’s goal was to nail one of the plump ducks for dinner, he failed. With empty talons it lands next to another eagle that might be it’s mate. At any rate he doesn’t receive a warm welcome.
The disturbed ducks circle over Fritz Cove and then return to their protected stream eddy. A little further onto the wetlands we find ourselves surrounded by a gang of robin red breasts. (American Robins). Most hunt the grasslands for food but a few hop around in a showy fashion between stints of freezing into statutes like children do when playing Simon Says.
Wondering why the eagles don’t hunt the robins rather then skittery ducks, I climb onto a earthen dike that surrounds a small pond. Spruce have colonized the top of the dyke. The ground beneath one is covered with eagle down and white splats of the big predator’s poop. Just down wind is a scattering of mallard feathers.