Aki and I have been avoiding Fish Creek since the first king salmon returned to spawn. The chance to catch one of a 15-pound salmon draws a crowd of combat fishermen to the Fish Creek Delta. The chance to gorge on salmon meat draws eagles and other carrion eaters. For that reason I wanted to sneak in a visit before the fishermen arrive.
I woke up early this morning and noticed that the tide had ebbed during the night. “Maybe” I told Aki, “ we can have the delta to ourselves this morning.” The trailhead parking lot was empty when we pulled up. Aki shot out of the car so she complete a survey of pee mail messages before we crossed over the Fish Creek bridge and moved down the trail. An adult bald eagle, the first of at least twenty would see, abandoned a scrap of food on a gravel bar and few down the creek.
Three or four king salmon broke the surface of the pond as we circled it. A beaver munched on wild flowers on the near shore. I tried to sneak by the beaver but tripped on a root. The noise panicked the big rodent into the water where it slapped its tail to warn the rest of the clan. Satisfied that I wasn’t a wolf or coyote, the beaver swan toward the little dog and I. It stopped a few meters offshore and closed its eyes. After a quick nap, it paddled away.
A spit covered with wild roses and blooming fireweed connects the Douglas Island with a forested island at the mouth of Fish Creek. I counted six eagles roosting in trees on the near edge of the island forest. Another eagle bounced up and down in the top of another spruce, having been chased there by a fierce crow. The diminutive warriors own the interior of the island where they are raising this year’s young. They begrudgingly allow the eagles to roost on the forest edge.
Aki stayed close while we circled the outside of the little island. With each step we seem to flush two or three eagles. Many had taken up roosts in the trees along the edge of the spit by the time the little dog and I completed our circumnavigation. A cloud of them flew out and over Fritz Cove as we headed back to the car.