When the wind blows this morning, it feels like it is below zero F. It is blowing as Aki and I explored the Sheep Creek Delta. The sand has frozen to the consistency of a hardwood floor. Crystallized sea foam marks the latest high tide line on the beach. Salt water that normally retreats back into Gastineau Channel as the tide ebbs has formed a frozen lake on the exposed beach.
We hear an eagle scream and watch another flush three mallards from mouth of the creek. The eagle that screamed soars out from a beachside spruce and makes a half-hearted attempt to do the same. I’ve seen eagles snatch herring, small salmons, and even a steelhead trout from the water. But I never watched one fly off with a duck.
Once, on the Innoko River of Western Alaska, a raven crashed into a young duck. Before it could finish off his prey, he tried to grab another chick. They both escaped.
It was sunny that day on the Innoko like it was when I finished off my morning coffee. The sun was just being swallowed up by a cloudbank when we started this walk. A small patch of sunrise yellow still colors the horizon but soon that will be gone. In a few hours we will have snow.