Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Eagle hunting grounds

Directly below the Wilkes Observatory trail in DuPont (formerly the perimeter road for the old DuPont explosives factory) is the wreck of a cement boat or barge. It sits at the edge of the Nisqually flats, the shallow area of the Nisqually River delta that becomes a salt marsh during low tides with a bounty of shellfish, crabs, and fish easily caught.

There isn't much information about it, other than it's been in this spot for at least 40 years. Even the DuPont Museum has sketchy information about it. I've photographed the boat from the Wilkes trail. In the winter, dozens of harbor seals and sea lions haul out during high tide on the boat like it's their private island.

I've wanted to hike down to the wreck during one of the very low, or minus, tides we experience in the summers here. One of my neighbors told me there are starfish and lots of other sea creatures under the boat. More on the hike there later this week.

Low tide brings in lots of hunters, especially great blue herons, seagulls, kingfishers, and bald eagles. I recognized my favorite eagle pair. I often see them fly over my house or the golf course toward this area, so it was a treat to see them away from the nest.

I suspect this is where they'll bring the kids for their hunting training. Last year, they were gone from the nesting area from about mid-August until early October.

I saw papa fly in and find a hunting spot. Because it was low tide, there was no need to fly and hunt. Lots of choices in the shallow channels of the delta.

Then I spotted mama eagle scoping out breakfast possibilities.

She tried a couple of spots, found breakfast, and headed back to the aerie to feed the kids.

Fish for breakfast

Mama eagle crests the Wilkes trail.
Meanwhile papa was hanging with the herons who seemed to find a bounty of breakfast possibilities.

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