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Over morning coffee I promised Aki that she would not be left behind today. She exhaled loudly and dropped into a nap. After breakfast she hid under the bed, watching me sling my camera over my shoulder. Only after I call for her did she join me at the front door.

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We drove out to a wetlands access point by the airport, driving under light standards on the Egan Expressway that appeared weighed down by bald eagles. Six of the big predators perched upright on one of the standards. One of the birds had its wings spread out to dry. Another leaped into the air and then dove toward Twin Lakes, which had recently been planted with immature king salmon. It didn’t have anything in its talons when it climbed back to its light standard.

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There was not as much drama on the wetlands when we arrived at the trailhead. No waterfowl floated on the Mendenhall River. A family of crows made what sounded like rude comments when Aki and walked past them. Sweeter voiced sparrows, Savannah and Lincoln, seem to be everywhere, feeding on the seeds of the maturing wetland grasses.  When planes weren’t taking off or landing at the nearby airport, I listened to sparrow songs.

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Down river I made out an adult bald eagle perched on the top of the root system of a driftwood log.  It watched a retriever swimming into the river to receive a tossed ball. The dog’s owner was closing on the eagle as the dog pulled onto the beach to return the ball to it’s human. How many more ball tosses will the eagle tolerate but it flies off to a quieter stretch of the wetlands?  The eagle answered my question by flying across the river to where no dogs could reach it.

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