Category Archives: oyster catcher

It’s About Time

“The rain must be keeping hikers at home this morning,” I told Aki while backing our little car out of the driveway. On warm, dry summer mornings, I can watch tourists and locals stroll past the house, dressed for a walk up the Perseverance Trail. Today, none passed while I drank my morning coffee.

            We drove to North Douglas, where I parked the car in the almost empty Outer Point trail parking lot. The folks that came in the other parked car had probably taken the dry trail to the beach. Not worried about soaking my boots, I lead Aki down the other trail—the one partially flooded by beavers.

            The rain ramped up as we neared the beaver pond, slamming onto the trail. Drops from the shower created circular patterns where they struck the pond water. Aki and I walked down a twenty foot stretch of flooded trail and onto to a dry stretch that ran parallel to a huge beaver dam. I’ve used this trail, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter for over 20 years and never seen a beaver. That changed this morning. A large adult swam slowly along the dam, ignoring the trail. I took a few photos and then, like a greedy idiot, climbed onto the dam so I could get a better view of the animal that helped to maintain it.

            When I moved a little closer, the beaver turned its head and gave me a hard look. Then it slapped the pond water with its tail and dived under the pond water. After giving it a few minutes to reappear, I followed Aki down the trail and onto a very bare beach. We crossed it and walked on a rarely exposed pathway to a Shaman Island. In an hour or so, when the incoming tide is in flood, the path would disappear.

            Usually, this time of year, ducks or even geese would be floating on either sides of the island bridge. But we only saw a single seal, six gulls and, which is cool, a pair of oyster catchers. On this rainy morning, it would hard to spot such dark feathered birds on the exposed tidal flats if not for their orange beaks. They provided the only bright color on the otherwise bland ocean scrap.  


You would expect disharmony from the mismatched trio. They don’t disappoint, The bald eagle opens with its sharp pitched screech. As it echoes over a calm beaver pond, varied thrush follows with a warbling whistle. A winter wren gives out its own trill. I hear repeats of their shrill refrain until Aki and I cross a small muskeg meadow and drop onto the beach where a oyster catcher bobs near the water line.


Back in the forest, we hear another eagle’s scream then an unseen Swainson thrush practices its scales. It’s a happy sound, as cheerful as the robin’s song. I notice that the rain has finally stopped. Last night’s storm has swollen the forest watercourses and soaked the ground.


Ground hugging clouds obscure upper Lynn Canal when we return to the beach. The white wall seems to swallow Lena Point and the scattering of islands just north of Auk Bay. This new storm soon reaches us but brings a soft, almost warm rain, not the cold, pounding stuff of last night. Is this to be our summer start—marked by warm rain replacing the cold and thrush song?