August 5, 2014: Pearse Islands

August 5, 2014: Pearse Islands

Today we had a couple of close encounters with wildlife that make this cruising life so enjoyable for me—small things but they made me smile. The first one occurred in the group of islets east of our anchorage just at the edge of Weynton Pass. We paddled there this morning to hang out in the kelp bed and see who showed up. There were several species of birds on the rocks and lots of seals around. Last year seals were swimming under our kayaks here, clearly visible in the relatively shallow water, and I was hoping to see them underwater again. I wasn’t having any luck, despite my patient waiting, but Ron was sitting quietly at the edge of the kelp bed and a seal was swimming close by. I nosed in beside him and the seal swam under our boats and surfaced beside us, seemingly unconcerned with our presence. Usually when they surface and see us, they make a huge splashy commotion as they disappear again. This one, however, kept swimming around and under us, surfacing from time to time and then lifted its nose and pushed the bow of my kayak, making it slip backwards out of the kelp.

Later, back at Snug, we set out to execute a plan to get some close up photos of an eagle—we had saved the head and entrails of the coho we caught yesterday with this in mind. I spotted an eagle high in a tree on one of the islands beside us (there’s always an eagle) and we rowed over to position ourselves under the tree. I climbed a little rocky knoll with camera at the ready, and Ron waved his arms around and then dumped the fish guts on the beach. As soon as Ron was out of the way, the eagle swooped down, landed on the beach and started eating the bits and pieces, sidestepping its way around the pile. Then it grabbed a piece in its beak and took off, heading to the next island to our east. (Was there a nest there? I’m going to assume there was.) It hadn’t eaten everything, and in a few minutes it was back for another helping, then picked up the backbone with its beak, transferring its prize to its talons in mid flight as it headed back to the nest. The head was still on the beach surrounded by a bunch of crows. We waited quite a while and watched as an eagle came from the direction of the nest and land on a tree on that island. More waiting and another eagle flew from the same direction and landed in a tree above us where we had spotted one at first. More waiting and we were just figuring that there was something unpalatable about the salmon head, when it swooped down with a loud rushing of wind in its wings, grabbed the head with its talons and kept going. So cool!

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